# Investigating rocket motion

In this activity, students investigate the motion of a rocket using a spreadsheet with graphs of motion included. They adjust variables and investigate how height and speed are affected.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

investigate at least one variable that affects the height reached by a rocket

gradually change that variable and describe how motion is affected by that change

interpret graphs to describe what is happening to the height and speed of a rocket during each stage of its flight.

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

introduction/background notes

what you need

what to do

student record sheet.

Download the Rocket graphs of motion Excel spreadsheet (see link below).

## Activity idea

Explore the ideas of force and thrust further in the Rocket launch challenge activity. Your challenge is to make the rocket go as high as possible and launch a payload 400 km above the ground.

## Related content

Rocket design is all about finding an optimal balance between thrust, mass and aerodynamics. Any change to one of these will affect the overall motion of the rocket:

For an object to start moving, there needs to be an unbalanced force. Find out more in the article Lift-off.

Thrust is the force that pushes a rocket. There are many types of rocket engines that use different propellants. Find out more in the article Rockets and thrust.

A rocket has mass as rocket body, payload and propellant, but with each extra bit of mass, there is extra weight that requires extra thrust.

Aerodynamics is the study of how air flows over a rocket. Aerodynamics only affects a rocket while it is in an atmosphere. Find out how a nose cone and fins help a rocket in the article Rocket aerodynamics.

Rockets are launched to achieve different types of orbits. Find out why in Getting rockets into space.

This Connected article is based on an interview with Rocket Lab Avionics Manager Naomi Altman and explores the science and technology behind the amazing achievements of Rocket Lab.

**Published:**30 November 2011