Activity Idea: Design a Rocket

Getting stir-crazy?  Cabin fever setting in?  Need some space (yes, I went there)? Well, fear not!  Today’s activity will solve all your problems: Launch your imagination AND use up all those empty food cartons, containers, cans, etc. from the past week at home. 

How to start: Inform your child/children they have been hired to design a new launch vehicle for the next phase of human space flight.  Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to manage a team and develop their design. 

What to do next: This is a team effort, so team member roles and responsibilities should be assigned.  Start with a discussion about what those roles are.  Once all roles are clearly defined, make assignments and start working! I recommend also reviewing the engineering design process, see link below.  If the team gets stuck, some questions you can ask are:

  • Where will your launch vehicle be going?  Why does this matter? Will it need to land? 
  • How many astronauts will be traveling in your launch vehicle?  What will they be doing? 
  • Will your launch vehicle be carrying any equipment?  If so, what?
  • How will the astronauts return to Earth?  Will the astronauts return to Earth?  Will the launch vehicle be designed for re-use?

What grade level is this for?  Great question!  This activity can be expanded for multiple age/grade/ability levels, examples are:

  • Use materials to build a life-size rocket.
  • Design and build a hand-held prototype.
  • Build a scale-model that includes internal and external components.
  • Build a launchable prototype.

Expand it: How can you bring in other content areas?

  • Science:  Will the astronauts be conducting any experiments?  If so, what? 
  • Technology: How do astronauts communicate with Mission Control? How do they perform everyday functions in microgravity, including eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom?
  • Engineering: How would you get your launch vehicle to the launch site? How would it launch?
  • Art: Design a mission patch. Write a story about your launch vehicle; it could be about designing/building the launch vehicle, the purpose of the mission, or the mission itself. 
  • Mathematics: What are the measurements/dimensions of your launch vehicle? To what scale did you build your proto-type? 

STEAM Resources:

– Peace

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