Engineering and Design standards found in the NGSS are different from many of the standards teachers were working with previously. This activity is designed to begin familiarizing students with the process of designing and modifying a model.
Students are shown a basic design for building a straw rocket which is launched with a puff of air through the straw. After testing the original design they are challenged to improve it through modifications. Student collect data and interpret it to see which of their designs worked the best.
Materials for this project are inexpensive and easy to find. There is minimal prep. work or mess. You will need a selection of plastic drinking straws, paper of different types, scissors, glue, tape, and optionally some clay.
During the project students are practicing skills needed for problem solving, measuring and recording data.
In my experience this activity was completed over three 45 minute sessions during once a week elementary science sessions.