Digital Age Skill: Upper Elementary - Rockets

Description of the Lesson

Overview

This project has three central parts.  Students will use a graphics editor to customize a soda straw rocket template that will be printed out and constructed out of paper.  Students will fly their soda straw rockets and measure and record the length of their flights on data sheets. Lastly they will input, manipulate, and display their data using a spreadsheet tool.  Depending on resource availability, the graphic design element could be skipped and students could color the rocket body by hand before assembly instead of using a computer.

OBJECTIVES

1. Students will learn how to use a graphics editor to learn about layers, gradients, selection tools and saving for output.

2. Students will use appropriate measurement tools to measure and record flight data.

3. Students will use a spreadsheet to input and manipulate data.

ISTE Standard

5a Students explore or solve problems by selecting technology for data analysis, modeling and algorithmic thinking, with guidance from an educator.

5b Students select effective technology to represent data.

NE Standard

FA 2.1.1.c - Explore various editing tools on existing media to create media arts (e.g., capture, copy, paste).

FA 2.1.2.a - Introduce cooperation, negotiation, and communication in creating media arts (e.g., collaborative posters (glossary)).

FA 2.1.2.b - Practice manipulating media and context for personal expression in media arts productions.

FA 2.1.4.d - Identify the importance of media arts as a learning tool.

FA 5.1.1.c Experiment with multiple strategies to combine and adapt media arts formats, ideas, and processes (e.g., editing).

MA 2.3.3 Measurement: Students will perform and compare measurements and apply formulas

MA 2.3.3.c Identify and use appropriate tools for measuring length (e.g., ruler,

yardstick, meter stick, and measuring tape).

MA 2.3.3.e Measure and estimate lengths using inches, feet, centimeters, and

meters.

MA 4.3.3 Measurement: Students will perform and compare measurements and apply formulas.

MA 4.3.3.a Apply perimeter and area formulas for rectangles.

MA 4.3.3.b Identify and use the appropriate tools, operations, and units of measurement, both customary and metric, to solve real-world problems involving time, length, weight, mass, capacity, and volume.

MA 6.4 DATA: Students will communicate data analysis/probability concepts using multiple representations to reason, solve problems, and make connections within mathematics and across disciplines.

MA 6.4.1 Representations: Students will create displays that represent data.

MA 6.4.1.a Represent data using line plots, dot plots, box plots, and histograms.

MA 6.4.2 Analysis & Applications: Students will analyze data to address the situation.

MA 6.4.2.a Solve problems using information presented in line plots, dot plots, box plots,

and histograms.

MA 6.4.2.b Compare and interpret data sets based upon their graphical representations

MA 6.4.2.c Find and interpret the mean, median, mode, and range for a set of data.

MA 6.4.2.d Compare the mean, median, mode, and range from two sets of data.

Lesson Design Reflection

LESSON PLAN
ROCKET FLIGHTS
This project has three central parts.  Students will use a graphics editor to customize a soda straw rocket template that will be printed out and constructed out of paper.  Students will fly their soda straw rockets and measure and record the length of their flights on data sheets. Lastly they will input, manipulate, and display their data using a spreadsheet tool.  Depending on resource availability, the graphic design element could be skipped and students could color the rocket body by hand before assembly instead of using a computer.

OBJECTIVES

1. Students will learn how to use a graphics editor to learn about layers, gradients, selection tools and saving for output.

2. Students will use appropriate measurement tools to measure and record flight data.

3. Students will use a spreadsheet to input and manipulate data.

OUTSIDE RESOURCES

Students will be using Pixlr (https://pixlr.com/editor/) to customize their rocket template and Google Sheets (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/) to input and manipulate their data. The current rocket template is modeled after from an original lesson from NASA and the original can be found here.

To fly and measure the rocket flights, students will need access to tape measures and straws.  If straws were not available, students could throw the rockets by hand or find an alternative method to launch them.

Original NASA lesson at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/straw-rocket/

HOOK/ATTENTION GETTER

STUDENT INSTRUCTIONS

Students will need to design their rocket as their first step.  If resources are not available, students could simply color and design rockets without using the computer.   Students can download the PNG template for this project here.

• Rocket Body on Pixlr https://pixlr.com/editor/

• Student will need to upload the PNG template to Pixlr by choosing “Open Image” from the main menu.

• On the “Layers” window at the right side of the screen there will be “Layer 0.”

• Double click “Layer 0” and rename it to “Template”.

• Discuss the importance of the areas in the middle that are transparent.  These are currently covered with a checkerboard design and will be the areas that get filled in with color.

• Insert a new layer

• On the Layer menu at the top of the screen choose new layer.

• It will place a new layer on top of the rocket template.

• Rename “Layer 1” to “Colors”

• Click and drag the “Colors” layer underneath the “Template” layer

• Make sure the “Colors” layer is selected with the blue selection box

• Fill in the “Colors” layer to design the rocket body

• Select the “Gradient” tool at the left of the screen.

• Alternatively create one by adding “stops” underneath the gradient strip and selecting a new color or colors to create a custom gradient.

• Students can choose colors by clicking on the “Colors” square under the sample gradient strip.

• Students are encouraged to modify their design repeatedly through the design process to experiment with colors and patterns.

• Students need to click and drag to draw a line on the top of the rocket template.

• Because we have the “Colors” layer selected, only the parts of the template we left open will display the colors from the “Colors” layer.

• The gradient created by the students will depend on a lot of variables.

• How long of a line they draw as they click and hold down.

• The direction they click and drag.

• Gradient Type at the top of the screen (Linear vs. Radial)

• Spread Method at the top of the screen

• Take the time to explore and keep recreating!

• Students could also further customize their rocket design by isolating any element of the design (fins or body) using the “Marquee Tool” at left of the screen.  For example, if they wanted their rocket body to be a different color or pattern than the fins).

• The Marquee tool lets us select an area and contain the gradient to only that area.

• Select the Marquee tool

• Draw a box around any element

• Switch back to the gradient tool

• Redraw a gradient in the Marquee box

• Repeat the process until the desired result is achieved.

• Save and Print

• Students can download their customized template or print directly from their web browser.

• Cut out the rocket body and fins to construct their rocket.  Adapted from this link.

• Carefully cut out the large rectangle and the two fins on the rocket template. This will be the body of the rocket. Wrap the rocket body around a pencil length-wise and tape it closed to form a tube. Tape the bottom close to the eraser and use another piece of tape in the middle.

• Align the rectangle in the middle of the fin unit with the end of the rocket body and tape it to the rocket body. Nothing should stick out past the bottom of the rocket body.   It can be helpful to rip a piece of tape in half length-wise to tape around the bottom. Place the fins on opposite sides of the pencil.

• (Optional) Bend one fin (triangle) on each fin unit 90 degrees so that each fin is at a right angle to its neighbor. Looking from the bottom of the rocket, the fins should look like a “+” mark. Some students prefer to leave the fins pressed flat against each other to create a two finned rocket.

• Using the sharpened end of the pencil, twist the top of the rocket body into a nose cone. (You may need to tape the cone shut to prevent air from escaping.

• Flying instructions

• Place several tape measures on the floor and tape/anchor them down to the floor to make measuring easier for students. (I typically tape 6-7 tape measures down across a 50 foot span,)

• To speed up the process, this is intended to be done in partners with one partner flying rockets and the other recording flight distance on their measurement sheets.  We fly a few practice flights and then start recording 10 flights total.

• Remove the pencil and replace it with a soda straw.

• Blow into the straw to launch the rocket.

• Practice with launch angle, type of air blast, fin shape, etc.

• Record measurements in desired units (we did nearest inch)

• Once all 10 flights are recorded, swap partner roles to complete the flights.

• Copy measurements onto both sheets to ensure each partner has a set of data on each sheet.

• Inputting data and writing formulas (Students will input their flights and their partners flights.

• Discuss rows, columns, and cells

• Click on cell under the function button (between A and 1) to select the entire worksheet and resize columns to 75.

• In cell A1 - Students type their name

• In cell A3 - Students type “Flight 1”

• Using the built in fill tools, students can click on cell A3 and drag the bottom right corner (blue box when the cursor turns into a plus sign) to fill across the row and count over as they drag to get to “Flight 10” to learn how to fill a pattern across a row.

• In cell A6 - Repeat the process to get a second set of labels for their partners rocket flights.

• Select a range of cells - Click and drag from cell A3 down to J4 to select a range.

• Using the format tools, change the color of the text and the background for their labels.

• While the range is selected, choose a cell border at the top of the screen.

• Repeat the process for the second sight of flight data for their partner.

• Input data for their rocket flights in cells A4 to J4 and input partner flights in cells A7 to J7.

• Enter additional text into cells. (K3 - Average, L3 - Shortest, M3 - Longest)

• In cell K4 - enter the formula for average  =average(A4:J4)

• They can type the =average(   and then click and drag across the range of A4 to J4 to select the range instead of typing it.

• In cell L4 - enter the formula for finding the smallest number  =min(A4:J4)

• In cell M4 - enter the formula for finding the largest number   =max(A4:J4)

• Repeat for partner flights at the end of their data.

• Insert a graph to show the flight data and then compare

• Select the range from A3 to J7 by clicking and dragging from A3 to J7.

• From the “Insert” menu at the top of the screen choose “Chart”

• Change the chart to a “Line Chart”

• Select “Switch/Rows Columns” to show each line individually

• Customize the graph to student preference

• At this point students can explore how computers make it easier for us to manipulate data in real time.

• Create a duplicate of Sheet 1

• Modify flight data by changing numbers to random large and small numbers to see how all our presented information changes instantly.

• Students could create more formulas to find mode, range, etc. to meet additional criteria if the teacher wanted.

• Print and display the graphs and spreadsheets of student work along with photos of students working on the project and flying their rockets.

DIRECT INSTRUCTION & GUIDED PRACTICE

This lesson is meant to be guided by teacher providing examples via direct instruction, and students then working independently with teacher assistance as needed to complete each task.  Each step is meant to be modeled as it is introduced and additional examples are provided throughout the process.

This lesson could be taught step by step with a teacher modeling and assisting each step.  The teacher would project their design, demonstrate each step of the design process, and the students would work to complete each step after the teacher does.

WRAP UP

This is a fun multi part project that showcases different technology and incorporates using real world physical materials combined with the digital.  Each part of the process could have a rubric if desired, but I preferred to keep it simple and on one.

I had my students design and fly their rockets in our gym working in partner pairs.  Once they were all done, I also had a class line up at one end of the gym and we flew a best of 7 series to crown an overall champion. I have prizes of balsa wood gliders to the student with the longest flight during partner pairs and also  the overall winner of the best of 7 bracket. I took photos and videos of them flying rockets throughout the whole process and the kids had a lot of fun flying and recording.

I shared images of the kids flying as a photo of the rocket winner by printing photos around our school and sharing on our announcement screens.

Some students printed multiple rockets and also experimented with different designs and fin placement to see if they could gain more distance as well.

Personal Reflection

Overall I think the lesson went well.  The design process on the computer is difficult at first and has a steep learning curve.  The students got the hang of it though and in no time were showing each other how they had designed on the computer.  They also helped each other quite a bit in the construction process.

Next time I think it would be beneficial to the students to use digital devices to input their flight data immediately as they fly.