Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
3
Total Time
2 hours
Area of Science
Chemistry
Space Exploration
Key Concepts
chemical energy, energy transformation, rocketry, stoichiometry
Credits
TeachEngineering logo

Overview

Building on an introduction to statics, dynamics free-body diagrams, combustion and thermodynamics provided by the associated lesson, students design, construct and test their own rocket engines using sugar and potassium nitrate—an opportunity to apply their knowledge of stoichiometry. This activity helps students understand that the energy required to launch a rocket comes from the chemical energy stored in the rocket fuel. The performance of each engine is tested during a rocket launch, after which students determine the reasons for the success or failure of their rockets.

Engineering Connection

Engineers apply their understanding of science and math concepts to successfully design and launch rockets into space. Many factors figure into rocket design, including body shape, materials, weight, and fuel type and amount. Additionally, engineers are challenged to design a system based on theoretical measurements, test the design, analyze the test results and then modify the design until the system functions as intended. In this activity, students experience this process as they create and test their own rocket engines.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • HS-PS3-3. Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.
PS3.A: Definitions of Energy. At the macroscopic scale, energy manifests itself in multiple ways, such as in motion, sound, light, and thermal energy.

PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes. Although energy cannot be destroyed, it can be converted to less useful forms—for example, to thermal energy in the surrounding environment.

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem. Criteria and constraints also include satisfying any requirements set by society, such as taking issues of risk mitigation into account, and they should be quantified to the extent possible and stated in such a way that one can tell if a given design meets them.
Energy and Matter. Energy cannot be created or destroyed—it only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems.

Influence of Science, Engineering and Technology on Society and the Natural World. Modern civilization depends on major technological systems. Engineers continuously modify these technological systems by applying scientific knowledge and engineering design practices to increase benefits while decreasing costs and risks.

Reviews

|
Science Buddies |
Was this review helpful?
Be the first one to review this lesson plan.
Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
3
Total Time
2 hours
Area of Science
Chemistry
Space Exploration
Key Concepts
chemical energy, energy transformation, rocketry, stoichiometry
Credits
TeachEngineering logo
Free science fair projects.