Rocket Out! Exploring Thrust, Acceleration, Velocity, and Flight Performance with Sensors Unit

Subject Area(s)

Earth and Space

Physical Science

Science and Technology

Grade: 6 (5-7)


This rocket unit provides the students with a chance to explore a variety of rocket types and to evaluate the impacts of size, shape, weight, and propulsion methods on flight characteristics.

Engineering Connection

Engineers are needed to design rockets for a variety of purposes.  From space flight to warfare, and from atmospheric research to entertainment, engineers are involved in designing rockets achieve their purpose efficiently and effectively.  Engineers must balance the materials to be propelled along with the materials needed to provide the necessary thrust.  Aerodynamics, safety, and efficiency in design are crucial.

Engineering Category

1.      Relating science and/or math concept(s) to engineering

2.      Engineering analysis or partial design

Keywords: rocket, propulsion, thrust, force, mass, acceleration, accelerometer, trajectory, speed.

Educational Standards

Shawnee School District Grade 6 (2010) from Kansas Science Standards -

Related Lessons

Related Activities

Time Required

Please see individual lessons and activities. Generally, the unit spans about 4 weeks.

Unit Overview (Return to Contents)

Overview of topics: (1) Introduce the applications and importance of rockets and understanding the physics of flight (2) Introduce one of the hands on activities (3) Cover related lessons. (4) Conduct rocket launch with altimeter activity (5) Cover additional lessons and encourage exploration and following recent news (e.g. SpaceX reusable rocket test flights and plans to put people on Mars.)

Unit Schedule

See individual lessons and activities.

Summary Assessment

To evaluate the effectiveness of this unit, a pre-test is available that can be administered prior to beginning any of the activities or lessons.  The same test can be taken as a post-test, after completion of the unit activities and lessons, and the results compared to assess the learning progress.



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Denise Case, Northwest Missouri State University and Kansas State University, Lucas Shivers and Lindsey Burch, Bluejacket Flint Elementary.

Supporting Program

Northwest Missouri State University, School of Computer Science and Information Systems

Kansas State University, Department of Computing and Information Sciences, National Science Foundation GK-12 INSIGHT Program