Grade Level: 4 (3-5)
Choose From: 6 lessons and 10 activities
Subject Areas: Earth and Space, Physical Science, Science and Technology
SummaryStudents learn how and why engineers design satellites to benefit life on Earth, as well as explore motion, rockets and rocket motion. Through six lessons and 10 associated hands-on activities, students discover that the motion of all objects—everything from the flight of a rocket to the movement of a canoe—is governed by Newton's three laws of motion. This unit introduces students to the challenges of getting into space for the purpose of exploration. The ideas of thrust, weight and control are explored, helping students to fully understand what goes into the design of rockets and the value of understanding these scientific concepts. After learning how and why the experts make specific engineering choices, students also learn about the iterative engineering design process as they design and construct their own model rockets. Then students explore triangulation, a concept that is fundamental to the navigation of satellites and global positioning systems designed by engineers; by investigating these technologies, they learn how people can determine their positions and the locations of others.
How are rockets and satellites connected? How are rockets and engineers connected? How about rockets and Newton's laws? The answers are many! Engineers have played a key role in designing satellites, getting them into orbit (via rockets!), and using the data they relay back to Earth for useful purposes. Anytime engineers work on something that moves, including rockets, they use Newton's laws of motion to help describe, understand and design how it is going to move. Designing and building rockets requires many different types of engineers working together to create equipment that functions as intended. When designing rockets, engineers must not only consider how far and fast they need to go, but also their cost, safety, weight and impact on the environment. Doing this requires many, many design iterations along the way. This means engineering teams design and test a rocket, discover what is not working or could be better, and then redesign and test until a successful final design is achieved.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science,
technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN),
a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics;
within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
See individual lessons and activities for standards alignment.
- Day 1: Keep in Touch: Communications and Satellites lesson
- Day 2: I'm Not in Range: Acting Out Cellular Phone Service activity
- Day 3: Newton Gets Me Moving lesson
- Day 4: Newton Rocket Car activity
- Day 5: Using Thrust, Weight & Control: Rocket Me into Space lesson
- Day 6: Strawkets and Thrust activity
- Day 7: Strawkets and Weight activity
- Day 8: Strawkets and Control activity
- Day 9: Blast Off: Generating Rocket Thrust with Propellants lesson
- Day 10: Fuel Mystery Dis-Solved! activity
- Day 11: Aqua-Thrusters! activity
- Day 12: Pop Rockets activity
- Day 13: Learn to Build a Rocket in 5 Days or Your Money Back lesson
- Day 14: Rockets on a Shoestring Budget activity
- Day 15: Where Am I: Navigation and Satellites lesson
- Day 16: Find It! activity
More Curriculum Like This
Students explore motion, rockets and rocket motion while assisting Spacewoman Tess, Spaceman Rohan and Maya in their explorations. First they learn some basic facts about vehicles, rockets and why we use them. Then, they discover that the motion of all objects—including the flight of a rocket and mo...
Through the continuing storyline of the Rockets unit, this lesson looks more closely at Spaceman Rohan, Spacewoman Tess, their daughter Maya, and their challenges with getting to space, setting up satellites, and exploring uncharted waters via a canoe. Students are introduced to the ideas of thrust,...
Copyright© 2009 by by Regents of the University of Colorado
ContributorsSee individual lessons and activities.
Supporting ProgramIntegrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Enginering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Boulder
The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation (GK-12 grant no. 0338326). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Last modified: April 30, 2021