Lesson Plan

Physics: Mechanics of Rockets and Orbits

This lesson plan will focus on teaching students about rockets and how objects achieve orbit after escaping Earth's atmosphere

Students will be able to... identify how rockets overcome Earth's gravity, analyze orbits, and create a stable orbit utilizing student-created rockets (via simulation).

Grades 9 – 11
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

This tool will be preloaded before class begins. I will show students the orbits of Saturn's moons and define the necessary vocabulary associated. Much of the vocab (like velocity and gravity) should be familiar with the students, which allows students to begin to understand orbit. The tool serves as a great visualization of orbits and should interest the students into learning more about orbits.

2 Direct Instruction

Activity: Presenting

After the hook, I will transition into satellites (man-made orbiting bodies) and how we send satellites into orbit. I will utilize in-school materials (such as a SmartBoard/whiteboard along with visual aids) to teach students mechanics like rocket propulsion, carrying weight/fuel ratios, and other similar ideas. I will also define terms like tilt, yaw, pitch, etc. While I am discussing these terms, students will use a graphic organizers to write down important terms and take notes.

3 Guided Practice

Students will use laptops/tablets to access Sketchpad online. Together, we will draw stages starting with rocket on the ground, in the air, and in orbit (labeling the parts and ideas along the way). Students will tell me what to draw, but I will correct and guide if they go astray or forget certain ideas. I will call on each student at least once to contribute to the discussion and check how each student is drawing their own rocket/stages. I will make sure to emphasis what we went over during the direct instruction phase. Students have the ability to ask questions when they are unsure.

4 Independent Practice

Kerbal Space Program
Free to try, Paid

Students will use the game "Kerbal Space Program" to demonstrate their ability to launch a rocket into orbit. Kerbal Space Program requires logical ordering of constructing the rocket along with an understanding of orbit in order to create a stable orbit around Earth. This will be assigned as homework, as students may take awhile to learn the controls and master the concepts associated with orbit. Mastery will be shown via screenshot of stable orbit along with a step-by-step guide of how they achieved orbit. This counts as a performative assessment.

5 Wrap-Up

Kerbal Space Program
Free to try, Paid

The wrap-up ties into the independent practice. As long as students are working on the Kerbal Space Program as homework, the ideas associated with orbits and rockets will become more cemented. Homework instructions are laid out in the independent practice.