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Lesson Plan

Rockets to explore the solar system

Summary: 
Set off a baking soda and vinegar rocket, use molecular models to understand the chemical reaction that makes them fly, then model the chemical reaction in real rockets. Model gravity assist, which allows us to send spacecraft to the outer reaches of the solar system.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Earth/Space: Sun, Moon, Solar System, Universe (1, 4, 6)
Earth/Space: Extreme Environments, Space Exploration (6)
Curriculum connection (2005 science topic): 
Earth and Space Science: Stars and Planets (grade 3)
Procedure: 

Introduction:
Understanding the planets beyond earth requires sending rockets to explore them.
We will look at how rockets work, and how we explore the outer reaches of the solar system.

Shoot off a baking soda and vinegar rocket and/or a film canister with Alka seltzer and ask students to model the chemistry that makes them fly.

Model chemical reaction of real rocket.

We have used rockets to send probes to many parts of the solar system.
We cannot carry enough fuel to get them there so use the gravity of the sun and the planets to direct them there.
Gravity assist activity.

Notes: 

Lesson 3/7 at Strathcona.
Strathcona students had done the Alka seltza film canister rockets in a previous lesson.

Grades tested: 
Gr 6
Gr 7
Teacher: 
Phyllis Daly
Reid McInnes
Site tested: 
Strathcona Elementary
Lesson plan originally developed and delivered: 

Strathcona Elementary with the VSB's Scientist in Residence Program