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Welcome to my Mini-Course


Course Overview

This course is deeply rooted in design thinking and engineering. Rocketry investigates what we know about force and motion, and the principles of flight. Some teachers have a fear of teaching Science, this course is designed to make you feel more comfortable with very complicated topics. Rocketry allows teachers to comfortably explore Design Thinking and Rocketry to creatively incorporate this knowledge into their curriculum.

Teachers will learn how to teach students rocketry and design. By the end of this course, they will feel comfortable to walk students through the research process for Isaac Newton, NASA, and concepts of flight and apply the research to their original designs in small groups.

The guided question of this unit is… how can we grow as learners and STEAM teachers to successfully deliver curriculum to students and apply the principles of flight to rocketry design?


  • Use a multitude of materials to explore designing, constructing, and eventually launching uniquely created rockets.
  • Utilize the design process to create multiple iterations of their rockets based on data analysis.
  • Problem solve and work through the design process collaboratively with a team.
  • Measure and record the angles of the rocket using a clinometer.
  • Graph the angles of their rocket.
  • Use the basic principles of trigonometry to convert angle measurements to linear measurements.


  • Poster board
  • Sharpies
  • Pencils
  • Pink Styrofoam insulation board
  • Exacto knives
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape (and plenty of it)
  • Construction paper
  • 3Dprinter (for nose cones if available)
  • Homemade launch pads constructed from NASA’s Rocketry instructions
  • Safety goggles
  • 1 liter soda bottles (4 per team)
  • Tin foil
  • Cardboard
  • Trundle wheel
  • Clinometer
  • Tennis balls
  • Graduated cylinder
  • Bucket (to fill with water launch day)
  • Height Finder Chart
  • Chromebook, Laptop device

Needs Assessment

In today's world, there are few authentic experiences to connect Science, Technology, Mathematics, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM). It is necessary to create hands-on exploratory lessons that spark curiosity, drive inquiry, encourage collaboration and to allow for multiple iterations of varying ideas. The concept of rocketry, aerodynamics, properties of flight, and design thinking are complicated topics. However, some teachers have a fear for teaching Science and STEAM-related projects.

Through this hands-on journey, you will have the opportunity to learn in multiple pathways to enhance collaboration skills and encourage teamwork through the design thinking process.

Rocketry investigates what we know about force and motion, and the principles of flight. This study will allow you to creatively incorporate this knowledge into your rocket designs. You will research Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion, and principles of flight and apply the research to original designs.

At the end of this course, you will feel comfortable to teach Rocketry to your students and present them with this challenge: How Can We Build a Better Rocket That Will Launch The Highest?

Instructional Context

This online course can be completed individually or with a partner. Partner work is recommended but not mandatory. If working with a partner, both participants may use a single computer, or each may use his/her own computer in conversation with their co-participants.

Curriculum Map


Iterative Design Process

This is an example of the Design Process from the Stanford d.School.

This may be a great reference to help you throughout this course.


Unit One

Please click this page to view Unit One: The Design Process

Unit Two

Please click this page to view Unit Two: Application of The Design Process

Unit Three

Please click this page to view Unit Three: Creating & Analyzing Data

Unit Four

Please click this page to view Unit Four: Rocket Launch and Data Analyzing

References and Resources

Isaac Newton Resources to support student research:

Click this resource to see more interesting ways to research Isaac Newton with your students Isaac Newton Resources

Newton and NASA:

  • NASA has a Digital Learning Network (DLN) that links teachers to NASA Scientists via Skype type lessons. We signed up for 10 Things About Rocketry and were literally blown away by the lesson, the visuals, the connections, the questions, the answers and the new thinking that grew out of that lesson.
  • David Kelley, founder of Stanford’s and IDEO, wrote a book about capturing one’s Creative Confidence, and his TED Talk is a great precursor to the book. Both are great for a professional book club or in small excerpts for students. It’s an excellent way to frame a conversation on Design Thinking as students will see it’s relevance in the world beyond your classroom.
  • As a professional resource, I find myself returning to my original inspiration, the at Stanford. You’ll see why once you travel around their site. Here is a link to their resources page.
  • Twitter is a friendly place to grow as an educator. It’s a place to connect with like-minded folks who are passionate about what they do. If you are a tweeter, you know what I mean. If you’re not, I urge you to sign up and get started.
  • PBS has created a treasure trove with their Design Squad television show and website. Take the time to watch a few episodes of Design Squad Nation to grasp how brilliant they really are! These young engineers will lead your students through the design process as they take on real challenges and collaborate to meet project deadlines.

Sites For Purchase:

Full Rocketry Unit Plan For Teachers By Caroleann Del Juidice

Justification And New York State Standards Connections

Students will collect authentic data and make comparisons in teams throughout the whole design process. Teams will collaborate to design and build their rockets. Throughout the process someone will be the “scribe” who documents the step by step evolution of the project. Students will do their research with Google and other Internet resources. Students will record and document all data in their student Google Drive accounts. They will take notes on Google Docs and share all findings with their team. Teams will use the “comment feature” to reflect, discuss, and plan their next steps of design. They will create team inspiration boards on poster board or can use Google Drawing. Teams will create drawings of their rockets which will include: size, shape, nose cone, number of wings, wing placement, and amount of water needed in water bottle. A peer assigned team member for each team will record the data recorded on the two launch days. Teams will make note of the angles (using clinometers) and use trundle wheels to measure how far the rocket has landed from the launch pad. Students will graph their findings.

The link between NGSS and CCSS/Math are inherent in the project as students are gathering authentic data to learn the science concepts. Students are graphing their data and creating Google drawings. ELA is included as each student will document and reflect using Google’s G Suite applications. Students will submit team shared documents and slides to support their evidence. Each student is responsible to write an individual “Rocketry Reflection”. Students in each team will work to put together a presentation with all supporting facts and inspiration board showing collected data to present to parents and administration during their launch share day. Design thinking and engineering are deeply rooted in this entire process. Students have little teacher guidance and are encouraged to be as creative as possible. Their designs must have research to support their design. This project directly aligns and touches on all of the tenets of Nature of Science in the Next Generation Science Standards.