By constructing and testing a slingshot rocket, each student will experientially comprehend basic aerodynamic principles such as stability, drag, and lift. Redesigning the rocket after testing it offers students the opportunity to apply their newfound knowledge to create a higher performing rocket, which in turn promotes further insight into aerodynamics. Students will also gain an experiential understanding of fundamental physics principals as they launch their rockets, such as stored energy, trajectory, and Newton's laws of motion.
Prep work: 1/5
Bend the paperclips if you have students in grades 1-3.
- State the name of the project and demonstrate how it is used.
- Build the project in front of the class. As you build, explain the function of each part of the rocket. The straw forms the body of the rocket, the fins provide stability, and the paperclip attaches the rocket to the slingshot.
- Explain how to launch the rocket. 1. Hold the slingshot straight up and in front of oneself. 2. Lower the bent paperclip onto the rubberband and pull back. 3. Hold the slingshot straight up and down, then pull back and release.
Safety, Tips and Troubleshooting
- CAUTION! Don't allow your students to aim or shoot these rockets at each other or anything breakable. Inform your students of a zero-tolerance policy. If they intentionally aim their slingshot rocket at someone else, they will have their rocket revoked until the end of class.
- Avoid firing the rocket directly into a hard surface - this may shatter the plastic straw. If this happens, it is easily repairable by wrapping tape around the break.
- Establish a 'firing range,' in which students all stand on one end of the room and fire in one direction only. After students retrieve their rocket they should swiftly move to the side of the range before returning to this firing line. Picking up the rocket and pivoting to face the firing line can result in a crash-landing into someone's face. You may even want to have students simultaneously launch and retrieve their rockets.
- Bring blocks, targets with point values, or any other creative addition to transform aimless shooting into a game of accuracy. Even a sheet of cardboard with a hole in the center makes a great target.