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Rocket Power

Overview of Lesson

This lesson focuses on the

differences between kinetic and
potential energy and study three
states of matter: solid, liquid and
gas. Along with students being
able to design and construct a
simple, mechanical device. The
students will be paired with a
partner and will be given the
opportunity to design a rocket and
be able to launch it using baking
soda and vinegar. The students will
then be able to talk about what
type of energy was used and what
state of matter was present during
the launch.

Description of Learners

There will be 15 to 20 6th

grade students accompanied by their
mentor. The students are in middle
school. Ages range from 11- 12. The
students are classified at risk due to
their home environment.

Learning Environment

The students travel to campus

to participate in this activity. The
activity should take place outside in
Memorial Mall. There will be multiple
large tables with launch pads
waiting for their students to set up

their rockets.

Intended Learning Goals

Students should be able to

explain what kind of energy was used
in the rocket launch.
Students should have a
general idea of what kind of matter
was used in the experiment

Lesson Content

Students will learn the

differences between the type of
energy through the construction and
trials of rocket launching.

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives are,

focusing on kinetic and potential
energy along with the states of matter
by designing a rocket that the
students will be able to "launch"
using baking powder and vinegar. The
thought is that the students will
understand what kind of energy is
being used when the rocket launches
and when it comes back to ground
along with what kind of chemical
reaction is happening while the
rocket is "blasting off"


6.1.3: Using a model in which

matter is composed of particles in
motion, investigate that when
substances undergo a change in
state, mass is conserved.
6.1.4: Recognize that objects
in motion have kinetic energy and
objects at rest have potential energy.
6.1.5: Describe with examples
that potential energy exists in several
different forms (e.g., gravitational
potential energy, elastic potential
energy and chemical potential
6.1.6: Compare and contrast

potential and kinetic energy and how

they can be transformed from one
form to another.
6.1.7: Explain that energy may
be manifested as heat, light,
electricity, mechanical motion, and
sound and is often associated with
chemical reactions.
6.4.1: Understand how to
apply potential or kinetic energy to
power a simple device.
6.4.2: Construct a simple
device that uses potential or kinetic
energy to perform work.
6.4.3: Describe the transfer of
energy amongst energy interactions.

Required Materials



Film Canisters
Baking Soda
Cardboard tube
Cardboard cone
Construction Paper
Portable Tables
5x5 pieces of wood (launch

1. Take the top off of a plastic film

canister and slide the cardboard tube
over the canister. Glue it in place so
that the open end of the canister
sticks out at the bottom. This creates
the body of the rocket.
2. Place the cardboard cone at
the other end of the body to create the
nose of the rocket and glue into place.
3. Decorate the rocket creatively
with paint or markers. Students can
use the construction paper to make
fins or other designs to add to their
4. Put some baking soda on the
inside of the film canister lid and
smooth it out.
5. Hold your rocket upside down

and fill the film canister about halfway

or so with vinegar. If you want it to go
faster, add more vinegar.
6. Put the lid with the baking
soda on the canister, quickly set the
rocket down, and step away (quickly).

Before they launch the rockets, they will be

asked what type of energy they think the
rocket will produce. After launching their
rockets, they will be asked what type of
energy actually occurred. They will also be
asked what kinds of matter were used in the
experiment. They will be assessed by writing
their answers on a sheet of paper. Their
hypothesis does not need to be correct, but
needs to have a reasonable explanation as to
why they think their hypothesis is correct.
Their findings after the experiment should
show an understanding of kinetic and
potential energy. If their hypothesis is different
than the final answer, they should state why.

References and Reference Material


When we started brainstorming for our lesson, we thought back to our middle school
science projects. We have all done something with coke and mentos or baking soda and
vinegar. Keeping this in mind, we went to Purdue Science Express to look through some ideas.
Finally, we decided to do a rocket ship that is powered by baking soda and vinegar. We went to
Google to continue brainstorming and to get a basic understanding of the lesson plan we would
be doing. We then found which lesson plan we would be basing our lesson off of. We altered the
lesson plan we found to best suit what we wanted to do and achieve with our own lesson plan.

Callahan, J., Dance, M., Hay, A., Nadelson, L., Pfiester, J., & Pyke, P. (2013). Teacher STEM
Perception and Preparation: Inquiry-Based STEM Professional Development for
Elementary Teachers. The Journal of Educational Research, 106(2), 157-168.
This journal is about how teachers who have low STEM backgrounds can actually
restrain student STEM learning. It also points out that the opposite of this is true as well.
Teachers who have a well-established STEM background can aid in student STEM learning.
The journal implies that even if teachers do not have a strong STEM knowledge, they can still
learn and train to have the STEM knowledge needed to pass on to their students. This journal
did not necessarily help us directly in creating our lesson plan, but it did help us keep things into
perspective. It helped to remind us that STEM learning is important, but it is also important for
the teacher to have a good understanding so that they can effectively teach their students.
Carter, M. G. (2012). A picture is worth a thousand words : a cross-curricular approach to
learning about visuals in STEM. International Journal Of Engineering Education, 29(4),
822-828. Retrieved from http://stem2012.bnu.edu.cn/data/long
This journal mainly talks about visuals. It breaks visuals down into six categories, based
on their properties and such, and gives other information about them. It also stresses the
importance of visuals in STEM learning. It points out that using visuals helps to better
understand materials in STEM and outside of STEM. For our lesson plan, we made it a point to
use visuals. We did this in our video by using pictures when we explained the step-by-step
procedure. We knew this would aid in learning how to do the project.