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TTU HomeT-STEM Center STEM Curriculum Resources Rocketry: Physics of Stable Flight

Rocketry Project Planning, Content and Activities

The resources on this page can be useful for planning and managing student rocketry projects in the classroom. These materials are intended as a resource only for teachers that have previous training or significant experience with rocketry. Nothing is more important than the safety of students, and we encourage even the most experienced teachers to seek out guidance and support from knowledgeable mentors.

Because there are so many possible projects with rocketry, we do not have a sample entry document as is the case with other project-based curriculum that we have developed. Many schools use the problem posed by Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) and the NASA Student Launch Initiative as design constraints for rocketry design projects. Typically, these involve specifying time aloft, weight-to-thrust ratio, payload weight, and altitude. Similarly, we can only list typical Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) content, because project documentation and other aspects of most rocketry projects lend themselves to applying TEKs content across a range of courses and grade levels. At the bottom of this page, we have included examples of TEKS commonly addressed by rocketry projects.

Project Planning

Physics of Stable Flight - Unit Lesson Plan

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by Lynn Bryant

The Physics of Stable Flight was created for use in Estacado High School in Lubbock, Texas. Students in 10th and 11th grades learned and applied the basics and foundational principles used in engineering by designing, building, testing, launching, and successfully recovering a rocket. Complete lesson plans for the three-week unit will give you details about how to teach this unit to your own class.

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Stable Flight Teaching Syllabus

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by Greg Burnham and Lynn Bryant

This sample syllabus was developed for our Physics of Stable Flight rocketry workshops/camps. It is a useful tool for planning either rocketry camps or class projects. The middle and high school teachers and students who participate in our workshops/camps report that the scope and sequence of topics are appropriate for acquiring the knowledge and skills to safely design and build stable rockets of all kinds.

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Rocketry Materials

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by John Chandler, Ph.D.

This spreadsheet is used to calculate materials for the Physics of Stable Flight workshops/camps that we offer. The list of materials suggests quantities, vendors, and costs of materials appropriate for the number of participants indicated for the workshop/camp. It includes an additional table for the materials needed to add a Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) component to our basic workshop.

View PDF | Download Excel

STEM Concepts and Academic Content

Math Concepts for Basic Model Rocketry

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by Greg Burnham

This useful reference contains all of the necessary formulas to create and build rockets of all sizes. It includes formulas to describe motion, energy concepts, Newtonian physics, the physics of stability, areas of a triangle, trapezoid, cylinder, and cone, and a list of common conversions used in model rocketry.

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Rocketry Considerations

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by Kyle Vogue

This PowerPoint presentation is a comprehensive look at rocketry design considerations and the forces that affect rocket performance. The slides provide a graphic representation broken down into thrust (impulse class and burn time), weight (total mass and gravity), and drag (the number, shape, and size of fins; the length, diameter, and material of the body, and the shape and length of the nose).

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Rocket Simulation: A Teacher's Guide and Excel Spreadsheet

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by Kyle Vogue

This comprehensive guide provides spreadsheets with formulas and teaching notes for modeling a rocket's velocity, altitude, and acceleration appropriate for the mathematics requirements of any grade level. Each of the six levels include clear explanations, formulas, graphs, and charts necessary to simulate rocket performance using grade-appropriate mathematics.

View PDF | Download PPT | Download Excel

Classroom Activities

Model Rocketry Construction Guide

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by Greg Burnham and Lynn Bryant
Edited by John Chandler, Ph.D.

This guide provides complete step by step instructions for building small model rockets that typically are launched with black powder motors. The detailed instructions include all the major components of a rocket: 1) motor mount, 2) airframe assembly, 3) making fins, 4) attaching the fins, 5) recovery system, 6) nosecone, and 7) launch preparation.

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TTU Stomp Rockets

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by John Chandler, Ph.D.

Stomp Rockets provide a safe alternative to launching rockets without the use of propellant. Stomp Rockets are fun and illustrate the concepts of force and motion to help students learn the basic principles of Newtonian physics and rocket design. These instructions explain how to make a simple rocket from a body tube, nose cone, posterboard or cardboard fins, and miscellaneous materials.

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Rocketry Posterboard Fin Drawing

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by John Chandler, Ph.D.

Fins provide stability for model rockets. A model rocket can have three, four, or more fins, and the fins may be nearly any shape. This template is for trapezoidal fins created from posterboard and commonly used with small rockets using BT 50 body tubes.

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Launch Card

Developed for TTU T-STEM Center by Greg Burnham

A sample launch card that must be completed and given to the Range Safety Officer (RSO) for the pre-launch inspection to receive permission to stage the rockets at the pads. Launch cards are a strict requirement at any organized amateur rocketry event.

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Chapter 111. C TEKS for High School Mathematics
111.34.8-area of geometric shapes, conversions (8.F)
Chapter 112. C TEKS for High School Science
Integrated Physics and Chemistry
112.38.1, 2-lab safety, scientific reasoning
112.38.4, 8.E-Newton's laws
112.38.5.B-gravitational forces/potential energy
112.39.2.K-graphic organizers (ppt)
112.39.4-motion, speed, distance velocity
112.39.6.B-kinetic energy
Middle School
112.18.8.B, 8.C-motion
112.20.6-Newton's Laws
Chapter 123. C TEKS for High School Technology
Engineering Principles
123.33.13-use engineering approaches, apply critical-thinking strategies and apply decision making techniques to engineering problems and solutions
123.33.14-work on a budget
123.33.15-applies communication, math, and science knowledge and skills to engineering activities