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Blended Bites Blog

Moon Landing | More Than Just Rockets

Jessica Anderson

When all that matters in their eyes is the landing, how do you bridge the gap between prototyping and touch down? 

My astronomy students are currently working on a project called "Moon Landing." It's an awesome water propelled rocket project my student teacher, Scott Johnson, designed last year. The objectives of the project are to (1) land the rocket on the surface of the "Moon" and (2) make sure all passengers (or as I called them in a post last year "fragile calcium carbonate covered membrane albumen yolks") arrive on the Moon unscathed. 

The project starts out with students learning about potential landing sites. They research the terrain of the surface of the Moon and use images of the Moon to show their landing site. Below is the second half of one of my student's papers illustrating where he'd land and why:  

This portion of the project is all about research and students making claims, backing them up with evidence, and providing reasoning (common core and NGSS). Since this project is early on in the year these goals are still a work in progress, but we are slowly getting there. 

The second part of the project requires students to come up with a design, illustrate it, and write-up reasoning for additions to their plastic bottle. The majority of the time is spent drawing, discussing, and sharing their designs. They get pumped when they think they've got a fantastic, workable idea. 

Once the design has been approved, students begin the building process. I've seen several different designs this year, including the use of Mentos and Coke to release a parachute at a certain time. Some of my students have their passengers riding in the comforts of Styrofoam, bubble wrap, and plastic bags. While others' eggs are riding closer to the vacuum of space (outside the bottle). Next week I'll share pictures of their designs as well as results from their launch.

The last step we took this week was to test launch their rockets. Except we had one major problem... Yep, you guessed it, our launcher busted. The darn thing released all the water from the bottles and refused to launch. No worries, we've kicked that one to the curb and Amazon has promised the arrival of a new launcher by Monday. 

So, until then we'll just let the suspense build...