We have lift-off! And sometimes we don’t…at first.
Recently Ms. Beck’s two sciences classes of 6th graders (one of which is shown here) took their experiments in chemistry and engineering outdoors as part of a project integrating concepts studied throughout the school year. “We started the year with chemical equations,” Ms. Beck explained, “and vinegar + baking soda is a classic chemical equation. We ended the year with physics! We covered a wide range of forces, including the force of friction, aerodynamics, and Newton's laws.
“Students were challenged to make a self launching, self-stabilizing rocket. Baking soda and vinegar were provided by me, but they could have used any nonflammable ‘fuel.’ We had design days where their design needed to be researched and approved, build days, a test launch day to tinker with the design and vinegar to baking soda ratio, and then our final launch day a week later!
“If students were able to design a rocket that overcame gravity, they got a 100%. Students helped each other, gave advice, and tried/re-tried different methods. It was a true experiment in the scientific method. I admit it was very rewarding to see all the rockets launched after days of student-led design, experimentation, research, and problem solving.
“Overall, it took 45 2L bottles, 37 Corks, 13.5 pounds of baking soda, and 12 gallons of vinegar!”
Having more materials meant students could try again, and they did. Too much vinegar? Not enough mixing? No lift-off? No problem. Reset and do over, just like real scientists.
Great job, everyone, and thank you Ms. Beck!