Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.
Elementary school students, as scientists, investigate forces and motion to answer the driving question: How can we use what we know about weight and thrust to plan a safe and successful model rocket launch? Students compare and contrast a video of a model rocket launch to the video of the JWST launch. Students begin planning a safe and successful launch of their own model rockets by reading the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) Model Rocket Safety Code and additional information about model rocket engines. Students notice patterns in an Engine Chart and are told the weight of the model rocket they will be launching. Using this information, students predict the size of engine required to generate the necessary thrust to launch their model rocket. Next, students construct their rockets and prepare for launch day with a launch day drill. Students conduct a model rocket launch and record their rocket’s flight. Finally, students watch the videos of their launch and consider what patterns they notice in the flight of their model rockets. Students consider other forces that could have affected the launches and how these ideas can help explain the JWST launch.
This lesson plan is lesson five of the Launching the James Webb Space Telescope Unit. The unit was created in collaboration with AIAA and Estes Education.
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Per Small Group (2 to 4 students)