In this science experiment we will explore Newton's third law which states for every reaction there
is an equal and opposite reaction. We will also learn about thrust, lift and drag. In the process we
will launch a model rocket up about 1500 feet in the air.
Materials For Model Rocket Experiment:
- Model Rocket
- Launch Kit
- Rocket Engines
Watch The Model Rocket Video:
Process for Model Rocket Experiment:
1) Purchase a model rocket, launcher kit, engines, and recovery wadding.
2) Follow the directions and build your model rocket.
3) Assemble the rocket launch pad.
4) Take everything to a safe wide open area that does not have dry brush located any place near.
5) Enlist an adult to help with the launch.
6) Put on some sunglasses to protect the eyes in case of unexpected launch accidents.
7) Hook the rocket and engine up to the launch pad and start the countdown! Now send that puppy
to the moon!
The Science Behind Model Rocket Experiment
The whoosh sound you hear is generated by the air and gas molecules escaping the rocket
engine as it ignites and burns fuel which creates sound waves. When you ignite the model rockets
engine it takes flight and darts through the air. This occurs because of Newton's Third Law which
states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case the action is air and
gas molecules escaping the rockets engine through the small hole in the center of the engine. The
reaction is the model rocket being pushed in the opposite direction from where the air and gas
molecules are escaping.
- Rocket flight involves the interaction of forces: weight, thrust, drag and lift.
- Weight is the force generated by the gravitational attraction on the rocket. We are more
familiar with weight than with the other forces acting on a rocket, because each of us have
our own weight which we can measure every morning on the bathroom scale. We know
when one thing is heavy and when another thing is light. Are the rockets we made heavy or
light? What do you think will fly higher - lighter or heavier objects?
- Thrust is the force which moves the rocket through the air, and through space. Thrust is
generated by the propulsion system. What kind of propulsion system are we using for our
- Aerodynamic forces are generated and act on a rocket as it flies through the air. Drag
Force is slows the direction of motion and Lift Force which helps the force of motion.
Parts of the rocket:
- Nose Cone is shaped to reduce air drag at the front of the rocket.
- Fins - The model rockets fins give stability so that the flight is straight and forward.
- Engine – produces thrust and creates lift
- Body Tube
- Newtons three laws of motion. The motion of a rocket from the surface of the Earth to a
landing on the Moon can be explained and described by physical principals discovered
over 300 years ago by Sir Isaac Newton.
- The first law is called “Inertia”. It states that every object remains at rest or in motion in a
straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. Can
anyone give an example of Inertia?
- The second law is called “Momentum” it explains how the speed of an object changes
when it is subjected to an external force. Can anyone give an example of momentum?
- The third law states that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite
reaction. Newton's third law explains the generation of thrust by a rocket engine. In a rocket
engine, hot exhaust gas is produced through the combustion of a fuel. The hot exhaust gas
flows through the rocket engine and are accelerated to the rear of the rocket. In re-action, a
thrusting force is produced out of the engine. The thrust accelerates the rocket as
described by Newton's second law of motion.
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