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 do you launch a heavy object like the rocket carrying the JWST? Students revisit the class consensus model and class model tracker and determine that they still have questions about the size of the thrust force needed to launch an extremely heavy object. Students decide to plan an investigation using rubber band rockets and discuss how to set up fair tests that vary rocket weight and measure the thrust needed to launch the rockets. Next, they use their data to make predictions about rubber band rockets of different weights. Finally, students compare the components of the rubber band rocket to a full-sized rocket. Students apply the science ideas developed to the launch of the rocket carrying the JWST.
This lesson plan is lesson four of the Launching the James Webb Space Telescope Unit. The unit was created in collaboration with AIAA and Estes Education.
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