May the Force Be with You

Educational Innovations Blog

By Jared Hottenstein

The movie Star Wars relied greatly on a mystical ability called “the Force.”  You can’t see it.  It’s an invisible energy that interacts with everything around it.  A little green guy named Yoda uses this mystical “Force” to move objects around.  Intriguing, sure, but it’s just Hollywood special effects.  However, thanks to science—and Sir Isaac Newton—we know that force is a real thing in our world.  In fact, we use it every day.  (And we don’t even need to summon Yoda!)

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STEM Galore with OneCar and More!

Priscilla Robinson, Educational Innovationsby Priscilla Robinson

If you teach STEM,  you’ll want to learn about the OneCar system.

The performance components in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have spawned many wonderful chances to explore STEM in the classroom.  The STEM curriculum is based on the idea that an interdisciplinary, applied approach is the best way to teach students these four specific disciplines.   When your students are searching for solutions to real-world problems, they are more engaged, and their learning is more authentic.

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How to Make a Rocket (Scientist)

Tami O'Connor, Educational Innovationsby:  Tami O’Connor

A few months ago I had occasion to conduct two hands-on workshops for elementary and middle school teachers at the NSTA National Convention in San Francisco on behalf of Educational Innovations.  One presentation focused on film canister rockets.  This is a tried-and-true way to teach Newtown’s First and Third Laws of Motion and also brings to light concepts such as the four forces of flight; thrust, drag, weight, and lift.  It also reinforces instruction on 3-D shapes and 2-D plane figures such as circles, cones, cylinders, rectangles, and triangles.

How to Make a Rocket Scientist - Educational Innovations BlogI presented the lesson to the teachers in much the same way I would to my students.  The first thing we did was to brainstorm the features all rockets have.  After a bit of discussion it was agreed that they all have a nose cone, a cylindrical body, fins, and an engine.  I then handed out a paper template imprinted with the pattern of a nose cone and fins, a regular 8½ x 11 sheet of white paper, a piece of goldenrod paper, and a white translucent film canister.  Also required are scissors, tape, ¼ piece of an Alka Seltzer tablet, and paper towels.

The only canister that works with this rocket is the type that has the lid that fits snugly inside the canister.  The canisters that have a lid that wraps around the outside rim, however, will not allow enough pressure to build up inside the chamber.

How to Make a Rocket

The first step in building a film canister rocket is to construct the body of the rocket.  The easiest way is to curl the white 8 ½ x 11 paper into a cylindrical shape using the film canister (without the top) as a guide.  The paper can be rolled around the film canister and then taped along the edges.  The easiest way to recover the film canister is to blow into one end of the rolled cylinder, forcing the canister out the other end. Read the rest of this entry »