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Eighth graders explore physics and engineering with bottle rocket project

Eighth graders explore physics and engineering with bottle rocket project

3… 2… 1… blast off!

Eighth graders at Broadalbin-Perth Jr./Sr. High School launched their custom-made water bottle rockets Thursday in a class designed to showcase the types of hands-on learning that goes on in the Patriot Academy, BPHS's innovative school-within-a-school that starts for select students in ninth grade.

The students were challenged to design, build, and launch a rocket to achieve the greatest travel distance when launched at a 45-degree angle. Students had to choose from a number of variables when designing and launching their rockets, including the number of fins, the size of the water bottle, the length of the nose cone, the amount of water to put in the bottle, and the air pressure used to prime the rocket for launch.

"The flight performance of water bottle rockets is strongly influenced by the rocket's design and construction, so construction and craftsmanship, as well as the appearance and theme of the rocket, is part of their grade," said teacher David Samek.

Samek said the project connects to Sir Isaac Newton's three laws of motion. 

"The launch of the rocket is a great way for us to demonstrate Newton's third law," Samek said. "You can see the water shooting out of the nozzle – the action – and see the rocket streak into the sky – the reaction."

Samek said this year's students exceeded his expectations, with many of their rockets achieving a distance of more than 100 yards from the launchpad. The winning rocket traveled 150 yards.

  • Patriot Academy
  • high school