General Physics Students Launch Into Projectile Motion Unit with Paper Rockets

By Catharine Li, Reporter

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  • Students in Mr. Nash's General Physics class prepare to apply pressure to the empty two liter bottle connected to PVC pipes that would serve as the launching mechanism. The weather was very windy, so students paid extra attention to how this would affect the flight patterns their rocket took on.

  • Denton Harmon '20 adjusts his paper rocket before another group member applies pressure to the launching mechanism to send the rocket flying. It was important to steady the rocket and make sure it was at the correct launching angle prior to flight.

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Launching into one of the final portions of their Projectile Motion Unit, Mr. Nash’s General Physics classes took part in an exciting investigation to better understand the forces involved in the motion of a projectile through paper rockets. 

Divided into small groups, students were challenged to conceptualize and apply projectile motion equations in order to design, measure, and create their own paper rockets to better understand the interactions between these different variables. 

“They’ve been analyzing different problems using projectile motion equations to calculate different things like distance travelled, flight time, and high velocity,” Mr. Nash said. 

With the freedom to incorporate many unique elements in their project, students’ creativity and problem-solving skills were put to the test as they considered the many possible routes to take in terms of structure and function. 

“We made the fins of the rocket really long because we thought that would work, and the tip very thin,” Margarita Bermejo ‘20 said. “I think in the end it was successful. We made 77 meters.”  

Launching mechanisms were crafted out of PVC piping and empty two liter bottles, where the students would take turns applying pressure to it in order to send their rockets up in the air. Flight records set in previous years were being tested, and in the face of competition, the groups enjoyed interacting with each other for an interactive hands-on activity. 

“We worked hard because we had to make it in class, but it was fun knowing we had a chance to beat [our classmates],” Matias Bermejo ‘21 said.