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Why Rockets are Awesome

….and how they can be used to

teach your students experimental
By Ringo Dingrando
Ringo Dingrando
• High School Physics teacher at the
International School of Manila
• 3 years teaching IB Physics, 7 years
teaching physics
• BS in Science Education – U of Missouri
• MS in Educational Studies – State
University of New York
Rocket Liftoff Clip
• (30 seconds) Embedded or linked if
Rocket Launcher demonstration
A Poor Rocket Assignment
• Show example
Rocket Project A
• Build an air powered • After the launch,
rocket using nothing discuss the role
more than…… played by…..
– Paper – Air resistance
– Tape – Fins
– Glue – Length of rocket
• Your goal is too build – Cross sectional area
a rocket that flies as – Mass
far as possible
A Better Rocket Assignment
Rocket Project B
• Build an air powered • Using your rocket,
rocket design an experiment
• If it flies poorly, build to test ONE particular
a better one. variable
• Collect data
• Analyze data
Why Lab Design is Important
• Independent and Dependent Variables?

• Variables to Control?

• Discuss please.

• Why is it important for students to be able

to do this?
The IB thinks Lab Design is
• The IB
– “experimental science courses should aim to
develop experimental and investigative
scientific skills” (p. 9 of the group 4 syllabus)
AP thinks it is important
Research on Importance of Lab
• Examples and names
How to Make a Great Design Lab

• This will relate to the rocket launcher seen

• But the steps can be used for any type of design
lab you like
1. Get plenty of Equipment
• Simpler is Better
• The focus is on lab design, not mastery of
• It should be interesting to students
• Link to website: BUILD THE AIR ROCKET
• As published by Slater Harrison,
• A more high tech launcher:
version 1 rocket-boys-rocket-launchers.pdf
2. Make students familiar with
• This could be a half hour of trying to
change different variables
• Show original assignment
• Pictures of launching
Pictures of Launch
3. Brainstorm on variables
• There should be many different possible
combinations of independent and
dependent variables
• Few labs should be duplicates
Stick ‘Em Up Brainstorming
-citation SUNY Masters

Independent Variables Dependent Variables

4. Show examples of good labs
• Examples should involve different
Student lab
• I posted this lab on my course website as an example.
•torsional pendulum lab QUINTIN, for EARCOS.doc

• What are some other design lab ideas that

could work well?
5. Write Design Lab
• Here is great lab that I received from a
– rocket design lab, Arjun, for EARCOS.doc
6. Provide Feedback
• Use format of your choice
• IB Rubric is quite good, can be modified
for non-IB classes
The IB Lab Design Rubric
My Feedback Sheet
G4IA Assessment sheet 11/3/2008

Student: Gonzales, Jose

Investigation: Rocket Design Lab
Time: 2Hrs
Date(s): 08/01/08

Defining the You formulated a research question and identified the relevant
problem variables.
2 and Great idea to change the center of gravity of the rocket! No
selecting one else thought of that!
variables Great sketch graph to help visualize your hypothesis.
Controlling You do not effectively control variables.
1 variables By adding extra tape to the tail every time, you WILL change
the center of mass, but you are ALSO changing the very
important variable of rocket mass.
Describing a :) Excellent drawing.
1 method for You do not state the increments of your independent variable
collection of measurements.
data You do not list the range of your measurements.
It is quite clear how and where you intend to add the mass, but
how much tape each time? What will be your maximum
What about multiple trials?
This criteria is only addressed
4 This grade will not appear on the PSOW

General comments

You are making similar mistakes as you did on previous labs.

Please see the feedback on previous labs before you do your next one!
Ringo Dingrando
Feedback Sheet produced by G4IA

You could end here….
• But if you have time……
7. Award a few to be carried out
• Or all of them if possible
• Or kids do other students’ labs
8. Take the data

Data recording

Cones for distance
Contextualizing Labs
• As an added bonus
• Example of mine as a NASA research
• Show research on contextualization
The End