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Quick, Cheap, and Easy STEM Lesson Kids Love

I did this with a group of kids during my summer camp, but this could just as easily be done during a classroom engineering lesson.  We built soda straw rockets to land on Mars.

What was Mars you ask?  Mars was a simple circle taped to the floor with masking tape.

You need is the printable which consists of rocket fins and body, and then you need straws, tape, and a sharpened pencil…and of course Mars!

Here is a synopsis of the building directions.  Students take the rectangle and wrap it around their pencil lengthwise to make a tube. Then they tape the fins at the bottom.  Next they scrunch the top of the tube around the point of the sharp end of the pencil to make a cone.
Next, they pull out the pencil and insert the straw.  Now they are ready to blow through the straw to make the rocket land somewhere.

I wanted to give them a target which is why I made Mars.   Students had to measure and record how far away from Mars they landed.

I could have made it more difficult by using rulers so there would be some conversation involved, but I just made it simple and let them use yardsticks.  Surprisingly, some students had the yardstick turned around and measurement still proved to be an issue.

If they didn’t reach Mars, they had to go back and redesign their rocket to make it fly closer.  Now, what if they did land on Mars the first time?  Well, I just made them see if they could make their rocket fly differently, for example, could they make the rocket spin while it flew.

The best part is this whole lesson and rocket parts printable are here free on the NASA website.