Only a very cool teacher gives this kind of homework to her students… “Using only construction paper and tape, I want you to design a rocket.” Lisa Heaton, the Gifted and Talented teacher showed her students a specially designed rocket launcher made out of PVC plumbing parts from the local hardware store. The idea for the PVC rocket launcher comes from U.S. Space Camp for Educators curriculum. I had the privilege of assisting Mrs. Heaton with the launch of the paper rockets. As the students will share in the comments below, the first launch revealed their design strengths and flaws. The five students with the best launch served as mentors for the rest of the students as they returned to the classroom to repair and redesign their paper rockets. The second launch proved to be the real learning experience – be sure to read comments from the young rocketeers below.
“This rocket launch activity coincides with the students reading Rocket Boys (also known as October Sky) by Homer Hickam. I want these kids to experience first hand the feeling of failure and success through the trial and error process of building their own rockets… and this air-powered rocket launcher does the trick,” says Lisa Heaton as she turns to help a 5th grader repair a rocket that didn’t fair well during the first launch.
These 5th graders are also using this hands-on science experience to learn about the science of blogging (pun intended). Student bloggers from Mrs. Heaton’s class in past years posted blog comments about their rocket experience that were even read by Homer Hickam (the author of October Sky) himself. Be sure to read the student comments below.