Rocket Launcher

SCIENCE CONCEPT:
Newton's Second Law of Motion defines what happens when a force acts on an object. The object accelerates in the direction in which the force is acting. A force acting on a stationery object starts it moving. A force acting on a moving object will speed it up, slow it down, or change the direction in which it is moving. The harder you blow into the straw, the faster and further your rocket will go. The rocket will keep going in a straight line at the same speed until gravity pulls it down.
STUDENT OBJECTIVE:
The student will explore how Newton's Second Law of Motion operates when they make a rocket launcher out of a paper cone and two drinking straws.
OVERVIEW:
In this activity, the student will make a rocket launcher and then blast it off using their own air as they blow into the straw. Even with this small rocket launcher there is a trajectory for the rocket.
PREPARATION TIME:
10 minutes.
LESSON TIME:
20 minutes.
TEACHER PREP:
Gather materials for the experiment. You will need two drinking straws, one wide and one narrow, scissors, stapler, sticky tape, and a paper cone about 3 inches tall.
WORDS TO KNOW:
  • force
  • acceleration
  • stationery
  • inertia
  • action
  • reaction




TEACHER TEXT:
Sir Isaac Newton discovered three Laws of Motion. The three Laws of Motion are really three faces of a single idea, which is expressed in its greatest way by the Second Law. The First Law is easily seen to be an outcome of the second. The first law states that an object not being pushed or pulled by a force, will either stay still or keep moving in a straight line at a steady speed. The tendency of an object to remain moving in a straight line at a constant speed or to remain stationary is called inertia.

The Third Law of Motion states that if an object is pushed or pulled, it will push or pull to an equal extent in the opposite direction. People are used to seeing moving objects slow down and stop when the force pushing them is removed. There is a force - friction acting to slow moving objects. Remove friction and moving objects would continue to move without being pushed.

In the Second Law of Motion, Newton defined what happens when a force acts on an object. The object accelerates in the direction in which the force is acting. With the rocket launcher Newton's Second Law of Motion is in "motion" literally! When you blow on the rocket launcher with the straw, the launcher accelerates in relationship to how hard you blow through the straw. And the launcher continues moving forward until gravity pulls it down.




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Last modified: Tue Mar 24 15:19:52 PST 1998

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