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2 Class Sessions, 3 Hours

The sky is the limit, but not quite the finish line. In this course, our young rocket scientists will do the traditional rocket launch. Their engineering skills will then be further tested by applying aerodynamic principles to the ground level. They will attempt to build the longest Coanda Maze possible, such that a stream of air can follow a curved path and extinguish a flame from far away.

What’s Covered

This course covers the basic principles of aerodynamic design and the opposing forces at play. Students begin by individually designing, building and testing paper airplanes. They then divide into small teams to repeat this engineering design process with bottle rockets. After their first launch, teams consider what variables they might change to their design before modifying and re-launching their design. The class ends with a series of fun demos and a hands-on activity exploring the Coanda Effect.

Lessons & Activities

Paper Airplanes

Students are individually tasked with designing a paper airplane that can be tossed the farthest. After testing their models, the characteristics of the different planes are analyzed and compared in an effort to discern the most aerodynamic features, preparing the group for their rocket design.

Rocket Build

In small design teams, students draft a design for their bottle rocket. They then build their rocket according to plan, perhaps adding their own artistic flare.

The class then steps outside the classroom for the launch! Teams launch their own rockets and use a manual altimeter to measure the maximum altitude reached. When all rockets have been launched, students return to the classroom to modify their designs before stepping back out for a second launch.

“Captain’s Coming!”

Students take a “brain break” and get moving, playing an active game where they need to think quickly and follow the captain’s orders, acting out the forces gravity, thrust, drag and lift before they’re eliminated. The last one standing becomes the next captain.

“The Coanda Commander”

Students learn about the Coanda Effect through a series of exciting demos and an interactive design problem. The demos include trying to blow out a candle by blocking it with an object with angular edges vs. curved surfaces, levitating ping pong balls with a hairdryer and pouring liquids from one narrow opening into another far away. Finally, students must attempt to assemble the longest Coanda Maze—an arrangement of objects with curved surfaces—such that a hairdryer blowing air on one end can extinguish a flame on the other.

Educational Standards

Applicable Common Core/Next Generation Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
  • NGSS-MS-PS2-2: Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
  • NGSS-MS-PS2-4: Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.
  • NGSS-5-PS2-1: Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.
  • NGSS MS ETS1-3: Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • NGSS 3-5ETS1-3: Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Ready to Get Started?

Accelerate your students’ learning with our exciting curriculum. Learn more about this hands-on, experiential education activity today.

Students at Pali Institute work on bottle rocket blueprint
Raving Reviews

What People Are Saying

I loved my experience at Pali. In my time as an instructor, I was able to develop many skills in the classroom as a teacher and as a leader. I would highly recommend this position for anyone who would like to start a career in the Outdoor Education Industry.

Alicia G., Instructor

Thank you so much for an incredible week. The kids are jazzed; parents are more jazzed. Your team is incredible, and the planning and execution for a top notch science/outdoor education/leadership camp is celebrated. We are so glad we found you.

Danielle V., Teacher

Impressive! This is our first time to Pali. I have taken students to four other SoCal science camps and I would highly recommend Pali and plan to return next year.

Janice K., Educator

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