Day two of activities consisted of designing and testing straw rockets. We started with an introduction on famous rockets, notable rocket scientists and astronauts, and what fuels rockets use. We talked about the Centaur rockets, space shuttles, Space-X, Valentina Tereshkova, Robert Goddard, Mary Sherman Morgan, solid fuels, liquid fuels, and air pressure rockets to name a few things. Interestingly, most students were fascinated by Valentina Tereshkova and the fact that she was willing to travel to Mars, one way. Students were also happy to see that Astronomy Roadshow member, Kate Oram, made it onto the cards.
For actual rocket building, the goal was to make a rocket that could go far and accurately hit a target. Students had 10 minutes to come up with an idea and make a plan, 30 minutes to build and improve their design before testing, and then we spent the remaining time talking about what went well with different designs and what did not go quite as well. We made sure to point out that there is nothing wrong with having to change their designs after testing and that engineers do it all the time. The oldest students even asked about the engineering design process.
We were happy to have so many questions about rockets and were glad to see how motivated the students were to build a winning rocket. Despite not being used to inquiry-style instruction, the students were quick to catch on and try their best to improve their rockets. It is amazing how far fun, encouragement, and some star stickers can take a student!
Hopefully the clouds clear up for our Star Party tonight!