Alien Launchers

 Alien Launchers

Time Frame: 1 day: 30-45 min.

Stage 1 - Desired Results

Big Idea(s)
This alien needs help getting launched back into space.  Using the everyday materials in your bin, create a launcher that can help him get on his way.  Your goal is to get him the farthest distance.  No slingshots are permitted.  Good luck!
PA Core Standards / Next Generation Science Standards
T & E EducationScience EducationEnvironment & EcologyMathematics EducationComputer ScienceCEW
  • 3-5- ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5- ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
  • CC.2.4.5.A.1- Solve problems using conversions within a given measurement system.
Essential Questions
*What materials can you use to get the alien to travel the greatest distance? *How are you able to control variables such as force behind launch and angle of launch?
Students Will KnowStudents Will Be Doing
  • Content specific vocab
  • Tech Ed: iMovie
  • Science: force, variable
  • Math: distance, metric, angle
  • Steps of design process
  • Developing and assessing a model of a launcher.
  • Making changes to model based on results.
  • Measuring distance.
  • If available, recording attempts with iPad to compare results.
  • Discussing results, proposing changes, and implementing changes for further testing and analyzing.

Stage 2 - Evidence of Understanding

Assessments (Formative and Summative):Performance Task(s)
  • Informal Formative Assessments throughout unit (i.e. classroom observations, questioning)
-observations of students working in groups to create design.-discussion with groups when they are analyzing results, proposing a change, etc.-discussion with groups to ensure they are being consistent with their angle of launch and the force behind the launch-if recording, students can submit their testing videos and results to Seesaw.  This can also allow further discussion where the whole class can watch some other groups’ videos and determine what designs were successful.
  • Students will be given materials such as a styrofoam cup, a few rubber bands, masking tape, yarn, paper clips, a few different sized or shaped balloons, and any other materials you want to include.
  • Students work in small groups to create a system that will launch their alien the greatest distance.  
  • Once structure is created, students should test, record distance (on paper or through apps such as Seesaw), and discuss results.  
  • Groups should analyze their structure and determine what change they would make.  (Students may need reminded that they should only change one thing at a time to ensure they understand how that one change may affect results.)
  • Testing will occur again and process continues.  Students report out to whole group about what their greatest success was and any struggles/ challenges they faced. (This really helps reinforce to students that there are struggles and challenges that come up.  That’s normal!)  Groups need to also discuss how they were able to control the angle of their launch and the force behind the launch.
  • Extensions or Adaptations: -Students can record attempts with iPads along with distance acquired.  -Depending on age of students, you may want to limit the materials.  -This can be used with super hero figures, army guys,...anything you can find in the dollar sections of stores.

Stage 3 - Lesson Learning Targets

Learning Activities: Learning targets are written from the students perspective. I can…
  • Identify
  • List/Tell
  • Describe
  • Solve
  • Convert
These should lead up to answering the Essential Question(s).
  • Identify which materials allowed for the greatest distance.
  • Describe how their group controlled the angle of launch and the force behind the launch.


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