by Paul Reyna
Have you ever had a science activity or demonstration that you really liked to do with your students, but then were told you could not do it anymore—or it did not fit your curriculum?
That is exactly what happened to me a few years ago.
That’s when I came up with my recyclable Articulating Stomp Rocket (ASR). It created new avenues which allowed me to introduce greater opportunities for student-centered learning, while finding many new ways to infuse a great deal of fun into my curriculum.
Before the Articulating Stomp Rockets…
I used to have fun with my students building their own rockets, then firing them off. We typically used commercial-style rocket engines. Both my students and I loved doing this at the end of the year, but we did it more for the thrill than for any major learning. Moving to a new school, my local Fire Department politely told me these types of rockets (using a class C explosive) were not allowed in the city.
I was really bummed… but not quite beaten.
With my traditional rockets off the lab table, I started to learn about stomp rockets. I decided they were kind of boring; my students would have very little input into their development. After examining our previous rocket design, I decided to try and create a new vision of a stomp rocket and activities.
Presenting the Articulating Stomp Rockets System
I developed a launcher (made of roughed PVC pipe) that is practically indestructible and should last for years. The rocket design is simple— composed of a single sheet of paper.
During the process I found ways to articulate the launcher and came up with a wide spectrum of ways to teach about these topics:
- Potential Energy
- Kinetic Energy
- Cause and Effect
- and much more…
Articulating Stomp Rockets allow users to test a wide variety of angles and other variables. The launching system uses empty plastic soda or water bottles to produce explosive results.
Now my students take pride in the rockets they build. As these photos will attest, they have fun decorating and testing their designs. Best of all, they get to go outside and launch their creations over and over again!
Ready, Set, Go!
At first we wanted to find out how far our rockets could travel in linear distance. Distances of up to 100 feet were impressive, but then we got crazy launches that exceeded 250 feet! (That was on a windy day with adults pitching in… but it still counts!)
Next, we started timing the launches and measuring the distances. This gave us the raw information for our data sheets and helped us organize the speed calculations.
If you’re looking for a team-building opportunity, Articulating Stomp Rockets are perfect. It is great fun for kids to challenge each other while at the same time enjoying some positive collaborations with others. Our rockets have been used from kindergarten kids to college students, from Boy Scout camps to adult training sessions… and they always produce impressive results along with a lot of laughter, cooperation, and learning.
I hope you enjoy our Articulating Stomp Rockets and have many wonderful experiences with your students. From the playground to the athletic fields and even in your gym, your students will experience the joy of “blasting off” with their own creations. This highly portable and interactive system will have your students excited and give you more reasons to go outside and experience hands-on, real world learning.
The kit, available from Educational Innovations, comes with a comprehensive 14-page, full-color lesson guide that includes a reproducible template, step-by-step assembly instructions and four complete lessons with worksheets that can be modified for use in elementary classes through high school.
This YouTube video shows you just how easy it is to create the paper rocket for the launcher. Enjoy!
Paul V. Reyna of Garland, Texas is a multiple award-winning teacher and Texas State Teacher of the Year Finalist.