This two stage rocket lab is based on a Conceptual Physics Lab by Paul Hewitt. Students construct a "rocket" that will travel 4.0 m and then RETURN without intervention. They make use of all 3 laws of motion and can be creative in solving the problem.
Why pay for this activity? I've included a student hand out that makes this a design challenge and included physics "money." Each team will get a sheet of money that they use to "buy" materials from you. This lab went from costing a small fortune to costing pennies per group when I implemented the budgeting component. In addition, you'll get pictures of students at work to show you how the whole thing goes, an explanation of one way to get it to come back, and a rubric for a write up.
This is one of my students favorite activities. It generates lots of excitement, team work, and real design challenge. It allows you to step away from the thousands of questions about how to do something right and let them prototype and problem solve in teams.
It can be done in a single 90 minute block or in two 45-50 minute class days. The first day is design, name tag, and business cards. Day 2 is build, rebuild, and test.
Keywords: inertia, force, mass, rocket, monofilament, rocket, acceleration, air resistance, physics, engineering, gifted, talented, GTE, GATE, STEM, AP, technology, Newton, laws of motion, action, reaction, friction