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We Learned About Newton’s Third Law of Motion by Launching Bottle Rockets

We had a blast during our Summer School science day, learning all about Newton’s third law of motion by building and launching plastic bottle rockets using an air pump and water bottles filled with water. It was a fun and exciting way to apply science experiments to prove a hypothesis and to learn science through inquiry-based learning.

What is Newton’s Third Law of Motion?

Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.

For example, when you push a chair, the chair pushes back on you with the same amount of force. When you jump, you push down on the ground and the ground pushes up on you with the same amount of force. When a rocket launches, it pushes out hot gas and the gas pushes back on the rocket with the same amount of force.

How Did We Build and Launch Our Bottle Rockets?

We used plastic water bottles as our rocket bodies. We filled them with different amounts of water and air pressure using an air pump. We attached cardboard fins and a nose cone to make them more aerodynamic. We also decorated them with stickers and markers to make them look cool.

We launched our rockets from a PVC pipe stand that was connected to a bicycle pump. We had to pull a string to release the rocket from the stand. We also recorded how long they stayed in the air using a stopwatch.

What Did We Learn from Our Experiment?

We learned that Newton’s third law of motion explains how rockets work. The rocket pushes out water and air from its nozzle, creating an action force. The water and air push back on the rocket, creating a reaction force. The reaction force propels the rocket upward.

We also learned that the amount of water and air pressure in the bottle affects how high and how far the rocket flies. The more water in the bottle, the more mass the rocket has to push out. The more air pressure in the bottle, the more force the rocket has to push out. We found out that there is an optimal ratio of water and air pressure that makes the rocket fly the highest and farthest.

We also learned that inquiry-based learning is a great way to learn science. We had to come up with our own question, hypothesis, procedure, data collection, analysis, and conclusion. We had to use our creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. We had to test our ideas, observe our results, and explain our findings.

Why Do We Think Inquiry-Based Learning is Fun?

We think inquiry-based learning is fun because it lets us explore our own interests and curiosity. It lets us discover new things by doing hands-on experiments. It lets us learn from our mistakes and improve our designs. It lets us share our knowledge and opinions with others.

We enjoyed learning about Newton’s third law of motion by launching bottle rockets. It was one of the most memorable lessons we ever had in science class. We can’t wait to do more inquiry-based learning projects in the future!


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