Rockets Away!

Rockets Away!

8-10 yrs old

Art and Design


Students will learn about rockets and how astronauts get to the ISS on one. They will also build a hands-on rocket as well as one in Minecraft.

avatar Submitted By: Phygital Labs

June 1, 2020

Learning Objectives

  • 1. understand that astronauts get to the ISS in rockets
  • 2. learn about how rockets take off a. CCSS W.7
  • 3. design and build their own rocket in Minecraft a. NGSS 3-5-ETS1-2 b. NGSS 3-5-ETS1-3

Guiding Ideas

How far away is the International Space Station? How do astronauts get there? What powers a rocket? In this lesson, students will learn about rockets that take astronauts to the ISS and how they dock and enter. The lesson will end with students designing their own rocket in Minecraft.

Essential Questions

• How do astronauts get to the ISS? How do they get inside of the ISS once they are there?

• How do rockets take off to make it to space?

• How can I make a homemade rocket take off?

• How can I design and build a rocket in Minecraft?

Teacher Preparation & Notes

1. Watch the instructional video How to Make Plastic Bottle Rockets to prepare for the rocket launch activity.

2. Decide if groups will be decided by the teacher or students (students will work in groups of 2-4)

3. Gather materials for the lessons:

a. Baking soda

b. Vinegar

c. Kleenex or toilet paper

d. Water bottles (1 per group)

e. Popsicle sticks or straws (3 per group)

f. Duct tape

g. Cork (1 per group)

h. Materials to design and decorate the rockets

4. Find an outdoor area in which it’s safe to experiment with the rockets

5. Sketch/scrap paper

6. Writing utensils

7. Clipboards (*optional)


Student Activities

Day 1:

Estimated time: 60 minutes

1. The teacher will hook the students by showing them the Rocket Take Off Space Shuttle Launch- NASA video.

2. S/he will ask students what they think they will be learning about today (ROCKETS!)

3. The teacher will explain to students that astronauts have to get to the International Space Station, but it’s about 210 – 250 miles above Earth. S/he will tell the students that they get to the ISS in spaceships that are powered by rockets.

4. Students will watch the video Tell Me A Story: How Do You Get to the International Space Station and discuss how the spaceships get to the ISS and how it docks once there.

a. The teacher can ask students how they would feel during this process (being in a small space with others, flying into space, having to be so meticulous with docking, etc.)

5. The teacher will tell students they are going to work in small groups to create their very own rockets and they will blast if off using solid (baking soda) and liquid (vinegar) “fuel,” just as real rockets do.

a. To understand this concept, students will watch the video How Do We Get into Space?

b. This video might be a little difficult for the students to understand, but the teacher can help them to understand that rockets use both solid and liquid fuel- this is related to the hands-on activity.

6. Small groups will get together, research the best rocket design, and sketch it out to get ready for the next lesson.

Day 2:

Estimated time: 60-80 minutes

1. Students will begin class by building their water bottle rocket (see the instructional video How to Make Plastic Bottle Rockets to assist in this)

a. The teacher can make the baking soda satchels ahead of time- with extras- so that the students can focus on their rocket design.

2. Once all rockets are finished being designed, the class will go outside to test out their rocket designs.

a. NOTE: The teacher should be the one to put the satchels in the bottles, as well as the vinegar. If possible, have students wear goggles or safety glasses. If none are available, make sure they stand back far enough to stay safe.

b. Once all rockets have been tested, the class will get together to discuss which rockets flew the highest or went the farthest. To help students remember, the teacher may want to have them come outside with a clipboard and scrap paper, taking brief notes about each takeoff.

Day 3:

Estimated time: 40-60 minutes

1. Students will review the rocket launch activity and think about what features of the rockets made them fly the best.

2. They will then import the Spaceships Minecraft Challenge world to their devices.

3. Once each student has the world open, the teacher will set the timer for 20-30 minutes.

4. After the timer goes off, students will do a “gallery” walk to see each other’s spaceships.

5. As an optional extension, students can write a fictional writing piece about their journey to space in the spaceship they built.


Performance Expectations

• The teacher will informally observe students as they

o discuss their knowledge of rockets, spaceships, and getting into space

o design and create their group rockets

o participate in the Spaceships Minecraft Challenge

• If the teacher chooses to assess students on a fictional writing piece, s/he can look for evidence of learning based on a writing rubric such as this one


As an extension, the class can pick the top three to five rockets to relaunch another day after making slight adjustments if they choose to.