Monday, October 03, 2016

Air Pressure Rocket on a Hot Day

I use my Arbor Scientific Air-Powered Projectile rocket every year. With my Conceptual Physics students we take the data as a class, determine the average time and use that to calculate the maximum height. With my older Physics students this year I decided to open it up. I told students how the rocket worked and asked them to write their own procedure to find the maximum height and initial velocity. Not surprisingly, groups independently determined that the best way to determine this information was to time the rocket's entire flight and then use half that flight time to determine the rest. Once students determined how they were going to test it, we went out to an open space and launched the rocket five times with the "low" washer and five times with the "high" washer. Each group collected their own data for their calculations but then I collected their results for each period.

I noticed during three periods of trials that the rocket launched sooner later on in the day. In the morning the rocket consistently launched after 5 pumps with the "low" washer and 7-8 pumps with the "high" washer. By the afternoon it launched after barely 4 pumps with the "low" and 5-6 with the "high." It was a warm day so temperature definitely played a role. Looking at archived temperature data for our area it was about 82 degrees for the first period's data, 90 degrees for the second and 97 degrees for the third. If you look at the consolidated data for all three periods you can see that the maximum heights and initial velocities decrease as the day went on.
My last period did get a chance to try the "super" washer. Now I wish I had tried it in the morning for comparison when it was (relatively) colder. 

There are lots and lots of things you can do with this rocket. There is an additional set of wood angled blocks for consistent angled shots you can purchase.

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