The lesson plan has been divided into three intervals. These intervals are based on the class periods at Gilbert A. Dater High School and Hughes High School. Class sizes will range from 30-45 students.
Interval 1 - Theoretical Presentation and Q&A (45-50 Minutes):
The team feels compelled to establish and maintain meaningful relationship with the students and high schools. Communication is the beginning of such relationships, and as such, the team will engage students on what they think are the most important aspects of space and space related missions, and their viewpoints on safety in the world of engineering. Likewise, we will ask them about rocketry and their opinions on how rockets fly, and thereafter begin the discussion of the physical concepts.
The teaching material from our team will be in brief via PowerPoint format, describing inertia, gravity, air resistance, projectile motion, and other concepts, based on the water bottle rocket information designed by NASA: Both this material and our presentation will be given to the teachers in advance.
Interval 2—Build and Launch Session (45-50 Minutes):
The student classes will be divided into teams, and provided supplies for the construction of water bottle rockets. The teams will be given one bottle and materials for fins in order to build the rocket. Members of our team will help the students construct the rockets in addition to making sure the rockets meet all safety requirements before launch. Each team will then launch their rocket with a provided launcher and air pump, while members of the University design team maintain a safe, but enjoyable environment. If inclement weather pervades, the team shall reschedule to a new date.
Interval 3—Discussion and Space (45-50 Minutes)
The last interval will be a focused group discussion about the experience and design choices the students made. The students will be primed to ask the right questions; why did certain designs work and others did not? What was overlooked in the designs? What flaws did the experiment have? These questions will also tie into evaluating the rocket that stayed in the air longest, or rockets with fins and noses intact after landing. The team will also seek out the teacher’s directive and incorporate their desired input and teaching instruction to the students.
Once this is completed, we will have a discussion outlining our senior design project, several different spacecraft, and the space industry in general. In regard to our senior design, the team will discuss challenges faced and lessons learned.
Throughout the semester, the team will be working on operational spacecraft presentations in groups of two students as an academic requirement. Some examples of the presentations we have been working on include the ISS, the Mars Curiosity Rover, and Orion. We will share aspects of our presentations to the students. Lastly, we will talk about the space industry -- space agencies around the world, the private sector, career options, the future of spaceflight, and next steps if they’re interested in a space-oriented career. We will end this last interval with any questions they may have.