Math 4-8 Rocket Balloon Trials

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					                EDT 300 MATH LESSON PLAN
                     STUDENT GUIDE
Target Content        Math
Target Grade Level    4-8
Unit Title            Averaging Data
Lesson Title          Rocket Balloons
Prerequisite Skills        Basic skills with computer functions (handling mouse)
                           Understanding of how the average (mean) of three
                             numbers is calculated
                           Ability to perform basic measurements with measuring
                           Fourth grade reading level
Objectives                 Students will launch a balloon rocket and will measure
                             the distance traveled.
                           Students will calculate the sum and average (mean) of
                             the three trials with a computer spreadsheet.
                           Student teams will graph data and compare results to
                             other groups’ data.
Arizona State         Math:
Standards                  1M-E6. Recognize that the degree of precision needed
                             in calculating a number depends on how the results will
                             be used and the instruments used to generate the
                             2M-E1. Construct, read, analyze and interpret tables,
                             charts, graphs and data plots.
                           5M-E1. Estimate, make and use measurements (U.S.
                             customary and metric) to describe and make
                           1T-E1. Communicate about technology using
                             developmentally appropriate and accurate terminology
                           3T-E2. Use a variety of technology tools for data
                             collection and analysis
                           6T-E1. Determine when technology is useful and select
                             and use the appropriate tools and technology resources
                             to solve problem
Technology To Be           Spreadsheet software (ClarisWorks 4.0-6.0) preloaded
Used                         on each computer
                           Rocket Balloon Spreadsheet Template
                           One computer w/ CD-ROM drive per team of students
                           Printer (optional)
Materials/Resources        30 student copies ―Rocket Balloon Trial Sheet‖
Needed                     Blank floppy disks (one per team)
                           Materials for balloon rockets (one set per group of 3 to 5
                                 piece of fishing line (11-12 ft.)
                                 balloons of the same size (plus a few extra in
                                  case one pops)
                                 plastic, 3-inch straw segment
                                 rolls of clear tape
                                 measuring tape
                                 permanent marker
                                 large paper clip

                   Lesson Preparation:
                       Collect rocket launch materials for the class and
                         assemble one of each item listed above in a Ziploc bag
                       Choose a site for launching the rocket balloons
                         (classroom or outside). Students will need about 10 ft.
                         of ―launch space.‖ Tips for good launch sites: A place
                         to anchor the fish line (either by tying to a doorknob or
                         back of a chair, or by taping it to a wall). One other
                         option is tacking the fish line to a bulletin board, but this
                         can easily be pulled out.
                       Load ―Rocket Balloon Spreadsheet Template‖ on each
                         computer from CD.

                      Note: If computer access or space is limited, set up the
                      following stations:

                      Launch station: students launch rocket balloons and
                      measure the distance traveled.

                      Computer Station A: for data calculation using the “Rocket
                      Balloon Spreadsheet Template.” Students should take their
                      results, enter them into the template, save it on floppy disk,
                      and take it to Station B.

                      Computer Station B: for compiling each group’s data into
                      one class data spreadsheet.
Anticipatory Set      1. Blow up a balloon and ask students some leading
                               What will happen if I let this balloon go?
                               How far will it go?
                               What makes the balloon go?
                               Etc…
                      2. Ask: How can I get the balloon traveling on a straight
                         path? (solicit: put it on a string)
                      3. Ask: How am I going to attach the balloon to the
                         string? (solicit: use a straw, attach it to a straw)
                      4. Ask: How would I attach the balloon to a straw?
                         (solicit: use tape)
                      5. Ask: Would the size of the balloon matter? (solicit:
                         yes, the more air in the balloon, the further it will go).
                      6. Ask: How will we measure the distance traveled?
                         (solicit: use ruler, measuring tape). Tell students that
                         they will be conducting an experiment using a rocket
                         balloon in which they will collect data, enter the data
                         into a computer spreadsheet, and perform calculations
                         on this data using the spreadsheet application.
                      7. Explain that using a spreadsheet allows them to enter
                         numbers into an ―electronic‖ table and perform
                         automatic calculations with the numbers. It performs the
                         task of a calculator. In this case, they will measure
                         distances traveled by their rocket balloons and calculate
                         the sum and average of the three trials.
                      8. Tell them that they will calculate the sum and average
                         (mean) by using the pre-formatted formulas in the
                         spreadsheet template, as well as graph the trials of the
                         other groups so they can see who had the longest
                         rocket balloon launch.
                      9. OPTIONAL: Explain that a scientist, Isaac Newton,
                         predicted the behavior of the balloon that they observed
                         many years ago and he stated that there are three laws
                         that control all motion. This experiment relates to
                         Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion (for every action, there is
                         an equal and opposite reaction).

Lesson Procedure   Part I: Rocket Launch (approximately 20 minutes)

                      10. In a class discussion, develop ground rules for
                          launching rocket balloons so that all groups will have a
                          basis for comparison. Lead students to understand the
                          importance of controlling the experiment as much as

                         Ask: How will you ensure that all balloon sizes are
                         equal? (solicit: measure it, use string, etc.)

                         Ask: How should the fishing line be anchored? (solicit:
                         tie it, tape it, etc.).

                         Stipulate that the line will be parallel to the floor.
                         Discuss what that means and how they can achieve it.

                         Ask: How many trials are needed? (solicit, but keep in
                         mind 3 is a pretty good number)

                         Ask: How will the distances be measured to ensure as
                         much accuracy and consistency as possible? (solicit:
                         choose a consistent point on the straw as the start/finish
                         point, mark it on the line with permanent marker, and
                         measure the distance using measuring tape).

                         Ask: How should the balloon be anchored? (solicit:
   tape it to straw.

   NOTE: due to balloon’s center of gravity, straw needs
   to be placed closer to the tied end than the round end.
   You can give students this tip, or you can let them
   discover this on their own by telling them to experiment
   with the placement of the straw).

11. Distribute ―Rocket Balloon Trial Sheets‖ – one per

   Stress to students that we will be comparing the data
   collected among the teams and it will be important that
   the activity be performed in the same manner in all
   groups. Review the design decisions made by the class

          The size off the balloon will be consistent per the
          The materials to be used
          The configuration of the balloon apparatus
          How to anchor the string
          How to mark start and stop points
          Measurement techniques and units to be used.

      Demonstrate how to launch the rocket balloon.
       Refer students to graphic on the Rocket Balloon
       Trial Sheet. Put the string through the straw.

      Make sure that one end of the string is anchored (to
       a wall, chair, door knob, etc.).
      Inflate the balloon and seal the end with a paper
      Tape the straw to the balloon.
      Mark your balloons starting point.
      Let it go!
      Have one team member mark the distance traveled.
      Measure and record the distance on the worksheet.
      Address the units to be used and the degree of
       precision you expect. For example, when using
       inches and round to the nearest quarter of an inch;
       for centimeters, round to the nearest half.

   NOTE: Have a few student volunteers assist in
   demonstrating the launch process.

12. Discuss classroom management strategies and
    behavior issues

      This is not a competition between teams.
      Specify how much time will be allowed. About 20
       min. is sufficient.
      Assign students to teams of 3 or 4 according to:

           Mixed abilities

           Behavior issues


           Seating arrangements

      Assign jobs within each team:

   Launcher Responsible for setting the balloon in place
   and releasing it

   Marker: Responsible for marking the furthest point
   reached by the balloon

   Measurer: Responsible for measuring the distance

   Recorder: Responsible for recording the results on the

   Note: ”Inflator” may be an additional job assignment for
   a fifth team member.

13. Tell students that they will conduct a test run. After the
    test run, they can make any necessary adjustments to
    the design of their rocket balloon (i.e. placement of
14. Direct students’ attention to the place on the worksheet
    where they can record the distance their balloon
15. Distribute materials for rocket balloon launch (one bag
    per team).
16. Direct student teams to the Launch sites and set time to
       return (approx. 20 minutes later).
   17. Have students conduct three trials. They can enter the
       distance values on the worksheet until they can be
       transferred to the spreadsheet.

Monitor groups’ progress and limit time allowed for data

Part II: Enter Data (Approximately 20 minutes)

   18. Using projection system, show the students how to
       enter data into the spreadsheet: (see ClarisWorks Job
       aid for help).

     Demonstrate moving from cell to cell.
     Demonstrate adding a formula to the spreadsheet—in
      this case, show them what the formula is for averaging
      the distance of their trial flights from their ―rocket

       ―Average‖: =average (first cell in the calculation..last
       cell in the calculation).

                   Example: =average(b6..d6)

     Demonstrate graphing option on the toolbar.

   19. Have the students open the spreadsheet template on
       their computer. The students can save the spreadsheet
       with their ―rocket balloon‖ information to a disk or to a
       student work folder.

      Step 1: save as ―your team name.‖
      Step 2: Identify the location where you want to save the
       file (desktop folder, floppy disk, etc.).
      Step 3: enter data
      Step 4: save, save, save

Note: Caution them to save the template as their own file
first, then enter data.

Sample spreadsheet data table:
                         20. Walk around the room and check to see if any students
                             need help with their rocket balloons or their

                      Part III: Graphing (approximately 20 minutes)

                         21. Reassemble students.
                         22. Tell students to follow directions on their worksheet for
                             producing a graph of their results. Explain that they will
                             have approximately 20 minutes for this part of the
                         23. Highlight the information that you want to graph. You
                             will be highlighting the labels ―Trial 1, 2, and 3‖ as well
                             as the distance data entered below each trial label.
                         24. Select the ―Options‖ option from the top tool bar and
                             select ―Make Chart‖. The box below will appear.

                         25. Select the appropriate type of graph— (top arrow in chart
                             options diagram).

                                                 Note: A bar graph is selected in this
                                                 case. However, you may want to
                                                 invite students to explore which graph
                                                 type best explains the data.

                         26. Click labels button. Give the graph a title (see bottom arrow).
                         27. Click axes button. Label the two axes (see middle arrow).
                         28. OPTIONAL: Groups that finish early can collect the trial
                             averages from the other groups and enter them in the
                             spreadsheet in the same column under their own

Assessment Activity      1. Have the students save and print their spreadsheets
                         and graphs using their team name as the file name.

Closure              1. Regain students’ attention.
                     2. Using projection system from teacher computer, open
                         ―Class Results‖ Spreadsheet Template from the CD.
                     3. Ask each group to tell you their average of the three
                     4. Enter as each group reports.

                                            Class Results
                           Team Name                Average Distance

                     5. Graph the results.
             6.          While the graph is displayed, ask the following

                     Ask: What can you tell by looking at the graph?

                     Ask: Which group got the highest? Why? (ask group to
                     describe how they set up the trial)

                     Ask: What are the differences? How do you account for

                     Ask: How does the graph help us see the results?

                     Ask: What other variables could we add to this
                     experiment? (solicit: angle of fish line, size of balloon,
                     length of straw, adding mass)

Extensions           For the purpose of expanding the notion of student lead
                     inquiry, challenge students to develop new questions to
                     explore regarding the balloon rockets. Each team can
                     design, implement, and summarize an experiment which
                     might answer one such question. For example:

                        How does the angle of the fishing line (with respect to
                         the floor) affect distance traveled?
                        What needs to happen to increase speed (or distance)
                         of the rocket?
                        What can be done to increase the mass and maintain
                         the distance traveled?
This lesson will help you learn to use the tools of a spreadsheet:
     Enter number and word data into a table
     Calculate sums and averages
     Graph data

What You Need

   Balloon                                      plastic straw
   10 feet of fishing line or kite string       1 computer per team
   plastic tape                                 spreadsheet template
   measuring tape                               Clarisworks 4.0 or better.

                           Rocket Balloon                       Straw


What Happens?

    In this activity, an untied balloon releases air and races across the room
    along a string. The air escapes from the balloon because the air around the
    balloon pushes against it. As air escapes, the balloon is pushed backward
    (Newton’s Second Law of Motion). A string through a straw keeps the balloon
    rocket on a straight course.


   1. Put the string through the straw.
   2. Make sure that one end of the string is anchored to a wall, chair,
      doorknob, etc.
  3.   Inflate the balloon and seal the end with a paper clip.
  4.   Tape the straw to the balloon.
  5.   Mark your balloons starting point on the string.
  6.   Let it go!
  7.   Have one team member mark the furthest distance traveled.
  8.   Measure and record the distance.

       Our Practice Distance Was: ______________

The Experiment:

  1. Repeat the above steps three times
  2. Record the measurements in the table below:

          Trials                 Distance Traveled

The Data and the Spreadsheet:

  1. Use the spreadsheet layout provided on your computer to enter your trial
     results. It should be named ―Rocket Balloon Spreadsheet Template‖.

  2. Enter your ―team name‖ in the cell beneath the label ―Team Name‖.

       Team Name           Trial #1       Trial #2        Trial #3

  3. Enter the distance data under the labels ―Trial 1, Trial 2 and Trial 3‖.

       Team Name            Trial #1      Trial #2       Trial #3

  4. In the cell directly after the cell labeled ―Trial 3‖, type in ―Sum‖—the cell
     beneath this one will calculate the total of each of the trials.

  Team Name               Trial #1       Trial #2       Trial #3
  5. Insert the formula into the cell beneath the cell labeled ―Sum‖: =sum(first
     cell in the calculation..last cell in the calculation).

     Example: =sum(b6..d6)

  Team Name                 Trial #1        Trial #2        Trial #3       Sum

  6. In the cell directly after the cell labeled ―Sum‖, type ―Average‖—the cell
     beneath this one will calculate the average the trials.

  Team Name      Trial #1        Trial #2        Trial #3     Sum

  7. Insert the formula into the cell beneath the cell labeled ―Average‖:
     =average(first cell in the calculation..last cell in the calculation).

     Example: =average(b6..d6)

  Trial #1     Trial #2        Trial #3        Sum             Average

  8. Save your spreadsheet as your ―team name‖ and print.


  1. Highlight the information that you want to graph. You will be highlighting
     the labels ―Trial 1, 2, and 3‖ as well as the distance data entered below
     each trial label.

    Trial #1     Trial #2        Trial #3        Sum             Average
    (data)       (data)          (data)

  2. Select the ―Options‖ button from the top tool bar and select ―Make Chart‖.
     The screen below will appear.
   3.   Select the appropriate type of graph. For this lesson, select Bar Graph
   4.   Click Labels to give the graph a title
   5.   Click Axes to label the X and Y axes.
   6.   Save the graph as your ―team name‖ and print.

Try Other Data!

Enter the trials for other groups in the class. Graph your average trial distance
and their average trial distance. Which group had the farthest traveling rocket

                                 Class Results
               Team Name                   Average Distance