Air-Powered Projectiles Help Learning Soar!
Want to introduce students to physics and open-ended inquiry? All you need is the Air-Powered Projectile and an altimeter (the football field is optional!).
1. Introduce The Altimeter And Air Rocket (Don't Let On How High It Flies!).
Explain that you're going to launch the rocket and their job is to come up with a plan for calculating how high it goes.
2. Break Students Into Groups, Head Outside And Give Them Five Minutes To Come Up With Their Plan. Most will realize the answer lies in the right triangle theorem. To measure the "base", they need the distance between where you will launch the rocket and where they will stand with the altimeter. This is why that pre-measured football field is such a perfect "launch pad"!
3. Launch The Rocket. Students will be awed by how high it soars and can use the altimeters and their math skills to verify exactly how high!
4. Got Extra Time? Model good lab procedures by repeating the launch — and the fun.
I'm able to astound students with physics…"Why have my students gone on to careers in aeronautics and the Army's flight program? Maybe it's my air rockets! I use them multiple times during the year to study vertical motion, momentum, and more. Students never fail to be astounded by their height and velocity. One student enjoyed my physics classes so much he asked for a set of air rockets for his birthday."
Kathy Mirakovits has taught science for 20 years and has received the RadioShack National Teaching Award. She is also the past president of the Michigan chapter of AAPT.