Rockets Take Flight During Math Lesson

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Students in Ms. Philp’s geometry class at High School East recently showed off their mathematical skills when they designed and launched their own mini rocket ships.

The lesson is part of a review of their algebra concepts from last year and to help prepare students for algebra 2 next year. “We start with a review in class of quadratic equations and how the numbers in them correspond to motion,” Ms. Philp said. “Then we build ‘stomp rockets,’ which are basically a tube of magazine paper rolled around a PVC pipe to be a specific size.”

After the students assemble the rockets, they are ready to be tested using the launcher. The launcher is made of PVC pipe and an empty two liter bottle. The students fit their rockets on the launcher and stomp on the bottle to make the rocket fly. Each launch is videotaped. Using the video, the students then make a table of time vs. height (a rough approximation). When they return to the classroom, the students use a calculator to do a quadratic regression to write an equation for the height of the rocket in terms of time.