Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Engineering & Design

## It Really Is Rocket Science Part 1

### Lesson Plan Overview / Details

This lesson introduces students to the science of aerodynamics and the scientific principles behind flight. Students explore the concepts of lift, drag, thrust, and gravity and apply them by making and flying paper airplanes. Bernoulli's Principle comes to life as students examine the shape of an airplane wing and learn how to levitate a ping pong all with a hair blow dryer.

Classroom
100 Minutes

### Objectives and Goals

• Students will demonstrate knowledge of how historical and current events have relevance to engineering design by describing how the science of aerodynamics has influenced the design of airplane wings.
• Students will identify the scientific principles behind flight by describing the various forces at work, including gravity, lift, drag, and thrust, as they fly their self-produced paper airplanes.
• Students will demonstrate understanding of technological advances by describing how Bernoulli's Principle applies to various objects such as chimneys and atomizers.

### Activities in this Lesson

• Show the website and play the video clip of the rocket launch. Explain that this rocket was sponsored by Sony, but it was built by eight high school students. Some of the students had no previous experience with rockets, but they learned a lot through this project and had a great time. They had to learn about rocket science, physics, and aerodynamics.

• There are four forces at work on an airplane as it flies: weight, lift, drag, and thrust.

Weight is the force of gravity acting to pull the plane down to the Earth. The more mass the plane has, the greater the gravitational pull.

Lift is an upward force that keeps the plane in the air. Lift is caused by air pressure acting on the wings. When the air below the wing pushes up harder than the air above the wing pushes down, the wing has lift and moves upward. The shape and the angle of the wings help to create lift in an airplane.

Drag is another word for air resistance. Air resistance is a type of fluid friction. Friction is a force that goes in the opposite direction of motion. As a plane flies through the air, drag is the force that pushes back against the plane.

Thrust is a force that makes the plane move forward. Airplanes use engines and propellers to get thrust. the force of the thrust must be greater than the force of the drag in order for the plane to accelerate and take off or for the plane to speed up once it is in the air. a plane flying at constant speed needs for the drag and thrust to be equal.

Show a visual image of an airplane with forces labeled. Search for one on the internet, or use the one listed here.

• Paper Airplanes - Projects

Students make and fly a paper airplane. Have students identify the four forces that are acting on their planes.

Weight - Paper is light, but it still has weight. This makes it land.

Lift - Have students examine the shape and style of the wings of their plane. How does this affect lift? See if students can improve the design of their plane to get more lift.

Drag - Have students determine where there is drag occuring on their plane. Ask them if they could redesign their plane to reduce drag.

Thrust - The student applies thrust when they throw the plane.

Challenge students to a paper airplane contest; just make sure they clean up afterwards.

Here is a link to find out how to make the best paper airplane in the world!

• Best Paper Airplane in the World http://www.paperairplaneshq.com/best-paper-airplane-design.html
• Wing Design - Demo / Modeling

An airplane wing is designed to produce lift. Show the students an airplane wing from a toy or model airplane. Pass it around and have them comment on its shape and smoothness. Elicit student responses of how it is curved and how it is thicker near the front and tapered toward the back.

Show the students an image of the cross section of an airplane wing. Draw it on the board, or display an image from the internet like the one in the link below.

Explain that air passes over the wing as the plane flies through the sky. The air that hits the wing in front must split; some passes over the top of the plane and some must pass under the wing. All this air must reach the back of the wing at the same time. If it did not, there would be a vacuum, a place with no air. The air that goes over the top of the wing must travel a greater distance than the air going under the wing. The air on top has to go faster to catch up to the air from below.

This produces a difference in air pressure. Bernoulli's principle states that as the speed of a moving fluid increases, the pressure within the fluid decreases.

The faster moving air on top of the wing has less pressure than the slower moving air beneath the wing. This difference in air pressure causes lift.

• Bernoulli's Principle - Demo / Modeling

Bernoulli's principle is the reason why airplanes stay up in the sky. It also explains how chimneys and atomizers work.

Wind blowing over the top of a chimney creates an area of low pressure. The air in a fireplace has higher pressure. Air flows from the higher pressure area in the fireplace to the lower pressure area at the top of the chimney. The smoke from the fire rises with this flowing air and keeps your house from getting too smoky.

An atomizer is a bottle for fluids such as perfume. It has a little squeeze bulb at the top of it. When you squeeze the bulb, it makes air move across the top of the tube that goes down into the liquid. This creates lower pressure and draws the liquid up the tube away from the higher pressure of the air in the bottle. When the liquid gets to the top of the tube, the air hits it and breaks the liquid into small drops. These small drops spray out of the bottle with the air in a fine mist.

You can show students how this works. Have them cut a strip of paper and place it in a book. The paper should be hanging out like a long bookmark. Have students hold the book horizontal to the ground and blow across the front of the book and over the paper strip. The strip rises up because the air blowing across the top of it creates lower pressure.

More examples: Take a stick ballpoint pen and remove the inner ink tube. Using just the plastic outer body tube of the pen, hold it down with your fingers at the edge of a table or desk, parallel to the edge. Push down with your fingers so that you are launching it with backspin. The tube flies through the air. The air going over the tube is going faster because of the backspin. This works the same way in tennis when you slice the ball and it seems to float.

Another example of Bernoulli's principle is levitating a ping pong ball. Hook up a hair blow dryer, turn it on to the cool setting, point it upward and place a ping pong ball in the airstream. See the video for a demonstration.

• Levitating Ping Pong Ball http://www.metacafe.com/watch/796021/levitating_ping_pong_ball_trick/
• Challenge kids to see who can levitate the ping pong ball while climbing up on a chair, or see who can hold it at the greatest angle.

### Assessment

Assessment Types: