Blast-off! 6th Grade Science Students Launch Bottle Rockets on Frank Field
Westridge School’s annual water bottle rocket project returned to Liz Kim’s sixth grade science class this year, with students holding a successful rocket launch on Frank Field last week! Over the course of several weeks, our budding engineers applied the fundamental concepts of physics to design, test, and redesign rockets using upcycled water bottles, plastic Easter eggs, party hats, and more.
“Students followed the same steps real-world engineers apply in every design process, highlighting both their successes and failures and suggesting further improvements as they went along,” said Kim. “They learned that engineering failures during design and testing are just steps along the way to success, which was a valuable experience.”
Students began the process by studying Newton’s Laws of Motion together, and Kim used the Korean game of ddakji (recently popularized by Netflix’s Squid Game) to illustrate the relationship between a physical object and the forces acting upon it. They then created rocket “proposals,” sketching out their designs with measurements for each component before they began the building phase.
Middle and Upper School Rocketry Teacher Dan Perahya also joined the class to teach important concepts in rocket engineering, and served as the sixth graders’ rocket design consultant. He also led the test flights, teaching the students how to properly set up a launch. (Read more about Dan’s work in our recent article on his approach to experimental rocket science here.)
“It is my wish that this introductory rocketry experience will propel our Lower School students to further develop their interest in rocketry and choose rocketry as their electives in upper grades,” said Kim. “When we conducted the first quarter survey with sixth graders, 94% of students said rocketry was their favorite sixth grade science activity by far!”
Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.