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.
Middle school students, as scientists, investigate particle motion and forces to answer the following driving question: How does a rocket's recovery system deploy? Students are introduced to a phenomenon by watching videos showing successful recovery system deployment and unsuccessful deployment. Students create initial models to explain why one recovery system deployed and the other didn’t, using their understanding of particle motion and forces. Students collaboratively plan an investigation and use simulations to determine how gases inside the model rocket could move the parachute and nose cone. Students revise their models and use their understanding of balanced forces to set up rockets for successful recovery system deployment.
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This lesson is the first of two lessons in the Model Rocketry Forces playlist. The playlist is an instructional sequence in which students use their understanding of forces to design a process for successful rocket recovery system deployment.