Grade Level: 11–12
This project is appropriate for high school students with a working knowledge of algebra-based kinematics and Newtonian dynamics. Because of the cognitive complexities of truly understanding the numerical process that will be used, these students should ideally be in at least their junior year of high school. Use of this lesson, in conjunction with the advanced physics extensions, was originally designed as a capstone project for students who had a working knowledge of calculus-based physics concepts.
At a minimum, the successful completion of this project requires students to have the following prerequisite knowledge/skills:
- An understanding of the relationship between a drag coefficient and a drag force.
- The ability to apply Newton’s laws of motion to a rocket in flight.
- The ability to apply basic trigonometric and algebraic processes to real-life problems.
- A basic understanding of using equations in spreadsheets.
This project is unique, though, in its available extensions. The mathematics extensions allow students to delve deeper into several mathematical applications that are used within the project. Additionally, the advanced physics extensions allow students with an understanding of calculus-based physics to apply more advanced mathematical methods to a hands-on engineering problem, including solving second-order differential equations through simulations developed by students.