Rocketry Project Poster
Rocketry Project Poster
This is Rocket Science
A Project about Leadership in Science and Mathematics
fulfillment of the
for SCI 2310:
By James Freiheit, Michael Herriage, Sheharyar Khan, Austin Wegner
McMurry Center for Mission Outreach with Science and Technology (MCMOST), McMurry University, Abilene, Texas 79697
In our LEV class, Leadership in Science and Mathematics
(SCI 2310), we were trying to find a project where we could
help students struggling in aspects of science and math.
Passing the TAKS test is a requirement for students in Texas to
graduate from high school. Since science is a subject that
many students struggle with, we felt that a project to give
students an advantage to pass the test was an appropriate project
to tackle. Approaching this task, we went to Clyde high school
to see if there was any way we could help the school with the
TAKS. To our surprise they were very eager to accept our help.
Field Trip to McMurry
To give the students encouragement for the TAKS test
and to foster a college-going environment, we invited Clyde to
send the students to McMurry for a morning. While they were
here, Dr. Keith launched several of his larger, more impressive,
Estes rockets. Then, the students participated in physics and
chemistry demonstrations. The McMurry Office of Admission
gave them a tour of the campus. We finished the field trip by
playing Jeopardy! using TAKS questions.
On our first day at Clyde, we introduced the rocket concept
to the students. This led us into showing off the rocket and
discussing its shape as well as its parts and their purpose. We used
deflated and inflated balloons to demonstrate balanced and
unbalanced forces and show them how to make a free-body
diagram. Finally, the concepts introduced were summarized using
Newton’s three laws of motion.
Days 4 & 5
Using data collected from the bench test, the students
completed a worksheet using TAKS equations to calculate and
predict the height reached by the rocket as well as information on
its velocity and energy.
Our primary objective was to improve the Clyde students
TAKS scores by helping them to understand certain
fundamental concepts in physics. We also hoped to inspire
these students in their learning by showing them how much fun
science can be.
We paired the students up, gave Estes E2X Generic Bulk
Pack rocket kits to each group, and assisted them in constructing
After waiting for a day with calm winds, we were finally
able to launch the rockets. Four to five rockets were launched
during each period. For each launch, the students took turns
collecting various data. One student pressed the button to launch
the rocket. Another student stood a premeasured distance away and
used their angle-measuring devices to measure the angle to the
rocket at its peak. Two other students used stopwatches to measure
the time the rocket took going up and down.
Our initial goal of designing a project to help high school
students learn concepts they generally struggle with on the
TAKS was accomplished. We also created a teacher’s guide
which includes a day-by-day outline for teaching a class on
rocketry, the worksheets we created to help enforce their
understanding of various concepts, and information about what
supplies were used and how much they cost. This guide is
available in PDF format at www.mcm.edu.
To gain a further understanding of the students’ needs we
met with their teachers. From the meeting we gathered useful
information including TAKS scores from the previous year, their
opinion of the students’ greatest needs, which students needed
the most help, and an idea of their motivation. Taking the TAKS
scores from the previous year and compiling it into an Excel
format, we determined which concepts the students needed to
learn the most.
Out next step was to brainstorm ideas while keeping in mind
the students’ motivation for learning. We wanted to find
something that would give a “bang” and keep them interested all
while teaching the needed concepts. Some of these ideas were
construction, cooking, “Mythbusters”, and rocketry. In the end,
we chose rocketry as our project because it covered most of the
desired concepts. Going into further detail we decided on
functions, TAKS equations, and which rocket experiment we
wanted to use. Furthermore, we designed worksheets that
utilized the TAKS concepts and equations that we wanted to
Pogrow, Stanley. “Teaching Content Outrageously: Instruction
in the Era of On-Demand Entertainment.” Phi Delta
Kappan 91 (January 2009): 379-383.
Days 7 & 8
There were several tasks for this day. First, Dr. Keith
showed the students how to set up the rockets and motors for
launch. Then, a bench test of the motor was performed. Using a
force sensor connected to a tablet computer, the students collected
data on the force and duration of the burn. Next, the students
collected data on the masses of the rockets they built and the
burned and unburned motors. Finally, the students constructed
Using trigonometry, TAKS equations, and data collected
from the launch, the students worked through another worksheet to
calculate how high the rocket actually went and information on its
actual velocity and energy. They compared these results to their
predictions and discussed possible reasons for the differences. On
our last day working with the students at Clyde, we used actual
TAKS questions from previous exams to show how the concepts
we had been using with rockets would apply to the real TAKS test.
We would like to thank the teachers, administrators, and
students of Clyde High School for their enthusiastic support for
our project. We appreciate the help given by Ms. Kinslow, Ms.
Walton, Ms. Owens, Mr. Fuqua, Ms. Howard, and Mr. Ogle at
Clyde High School. We learned much from observing and
working with their classes.