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Crash-n-Burn

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Our local elementary school is looking for presenters for Science Day. Given the circumstance in the community that I am a known rocketman, naturally I was targeted to present. I gladly accepted.

I found some nice material from Estes, NAR, NASA and others. The Beginners and Education section of this forum is quite valuable for finding material. I have 45 minutes to present content of my choice to 5th grade students. I have to run the presentation twice - once to each class of 22 children.

The school has a poor option for a demonstration flight because of facility remodeling. I would, however, like to have some kind of interactive experience. My local club is about an hour away, and given that the presentation is during traditional work hours and limited to indoor activities I am hesitant to involve them. So that sets the problem statement as an indoor, one-man interactive experience lasting 45 minutes that is age-appropriate.

I am gravitating to Newton's Third Law. I can present on the basics of how a rocket works in terms of thrust v. drag and gravity. I would like to leave the kids with the concept that rockets motors do not work by pushing off on the ground or air surrounding the rocket. Then I can set up a string track for three balloons with different nozzle sizes to demonstrate how nozzle size affects pressurization within the balloon (motor) and contributes to thrust.

I'll also bring along a sampling of large rockets for eye candy.

Thoughts? Ideas? Alternatives? Watch-outs? Honestly my biggest concern is running into some belligerent little brat carrying on about how Kyrie Irving says the earth is flat.
 

mccordmw

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They can make their own, simple rockets.

Balloon with a straw = rocket
Water bottle rocket.

Take a small rocket and show them the string swing wo/fins to teach stability.

When I show kids, I use my Airburst rocket. It's safe, impressively high flying, and fun for the kids.
 

dr wogz

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I've done a lot with younger kids, although mine was only a 20 minute blurb.

I focused on: (I usually ask them questions, to get them all thinking & to participate in the discussion..)
Why rockets and not planes?
Why fins? and why near the back? Why some rockets don't have fins. (I had a tube & nose cone, a 'rocket' with a fin can that slid up & down on the tube to demonstrate this, with a toss)
Aerodynamics: different shapes, a long skinny rocket vs. a short fat one, which one goes higher?! Put your hand out a car window, what shape offers the least resistance?
Does a rocket have to be long? What about saucers? spools, pyramids..
Fast vs. slow.. and how fast you need to got to get into orbit.. And how mass is affected.. How much energy is needed? A bullet vs. a bowling ball..
Bring in a globe, and talk about where space starts, and where satellites are in orbit (on a typical globe, it's about a 1/2" to 1-1/2". Kids seems to think they're way out!)
History: who was the first man in space? (it's always Neil, but obviously wrong.. even teachers get this one wrong!) first woman? who's Laika? The fact rockets have been around since the 1400's (the Chinese; rocket powered arrows) Goddard in the 1910's and the neighbour's cabbage patch, the Russian guy Tsylovsky(?) and his initial works. And it was only about 50 years since we first flew to reaching 'space'!
And, "What does NASA stand for?" ("North America Special Attack" was by far the best response I ever got!!)

I have the Flistkit's Acme Spitfire & Goddard's 'Nell' for show & tell, along with other kits from my collection..
 

dhbarr

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Airstomp rockets are just PVC & 2litre bottle for the launcher; and copy paper & tape.

You could pre-make several (eg no fins, not enough fin, right amount of fin ; very long & skinny, very short and fat; balanced correctly, not enough noseweight ) to serve as visual punctuation for illustrating what-if parameters.
 

djs

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Not 5th graders, but whenever I talk to cub scouts about model rockets (and rocketry in general), I try to steer them away from the "fireworks" mentality. That rockets can be fun without blowing things up, and that we can do lots of useful things with rockets (go to the moon, satellites, etc).

If you have access to a tv or video system, show them a youtube video from onboard an HPR rocket. Kids always get a kick out of that, and you can use it to jumpstart a discussion. Pause the video at apogee and show them how much you can see from that rocket. Now imagine if that rocket were in space, how much we could see from there. Talk about satellites and why they're useful, etc.
 

Crash-n-Burn

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Thanks everyone, appreciate the ideas. There are some great bits in the video from Rex and I like the idea of playing a youtube clip of a launch to give a unique on-board perspective. I also like the idea on the role of fins on stability, but I might need to start mapping out time and complexity. I did once explain to some co-workers how a basic rocket motor works, why sport rockets come back to earth and how satellites and ISS stay in space but my efforts were mostly met with blank, uncomprehending faces. Let's see if I can cut some ideas into bite-sized chunks that are easily understood.
 

r66astro

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How about setting a student in a wagon with good bearings, have them throw something and show that the wagon moves in the opposite direction
 

djs

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my efforts were mostly met with blank, uncomprehending faces.
That's because they were really thinking "why is this guy going over stupid basic stuff.. can't he talk about things like optimal boosted dart configurations or turbopump design for LOX based motors?"
 

Crash-n-Burn

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That's because they were really thinking "why is this guy going over stupid basic stuff.. can't he talk about things like optimal boosted dart configurations or turbopump design for LOX based motors?"
You are a glass-half-full kind of guy. I like that.
 

tightwad

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Just remember, that you must talk or present rocket info at their level of education and make it fun. Don't go overboard with technical stuff or they will zone out or get fidgety. Watch their eyes...if they are wide open and listening to everything you say, then you got them.
 

Crash-n-Burn

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Just remember, that you must talk or present rocket info at their level of education and make it fun. Don't go overboard with technical stuff or they will zone out or get fidgety. Watch their eyes...if they are wide open and listening to everything you say, then you got them.
Good advice. I coach Little League so I'm aware on some level on their capacity and attention span. Seems like if I speak for more than 90 seconds without some type of interruptor (a question to them, a demonstration, etc) their attention will wane.

I hopeful that they might be a better audience than adults because they'll have fewer misconceptions formed.
 

Crash-n-Burn

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Today was presentation day. Everything went great! Thanks to everyone that contributed ideas and feedback.

I have to share this little gem:

Me "Okay, who can tell me what catalyst means?"
Student #1 "Someone who trains camels."
Student #2 "No he said catalyst. You are thinking of a camelist."
 

Zeus-cat

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Ask them interesting questions. One guy who does presentations asks who was the first American in space. Even the adults get this one wrong. His name was Ham. He was a chimp. Realize that they may not know we went to the moon so you can talk a little about that too.
 
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