Students Learn About Physics by Launching Rockets.

Cecilina Running Wolf, Contributing Writer

On an early November morning, Associate Professor of Physics Dr. Dan Durben took his physics class out to the old practice field to learn something cool about physics. As the air filled with smoke the students’ minds filled with wonder.

Durben teaches the basic physics class that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. For this lesson they were studying energy, Newton’s Law, and kinematic variables. These all came together for the launching of the rockets Tuesday morning.

Alyssa Egan, an exercise science senior in the morning class, was in attendance that morning.

“We took tissue paper so that the parachute on the rocket did not blow up. Then, we put parachutes in and put the lid on. From there, we took the potential chemical energy, which — is an explosive. [We] took wires and applied electrical energy to the rockets. Then we saw which rocket with the different fuel went the furthest,” Egan said.

There were three different rockets, each one with a different amount of fuel. Rocket A had the least amount, Rocket C had the most, and Rocket B was in between the two.

The purpose of the experiment was to see the calculations come from the classroom to real life.

“The porter potty rocket, Rocket A, was my favorite. The rocket did not go very high because it had the least amount of fuel,” Egan said.

The rocket that had the most amount of fuel went the furthest. These rockets demonstrated positive velocity and acceleration. When velocity and acceleration are both positive it means that the rocket was speeding up. That is why the rocket went so far. The rocket shook through the air while going up in the air. This was a demonstration of the drag force. Drag force is the air resistance that is hitting the rocket.

Egan said she felt more confident about her study within the class after the experiment.

“You have a better vision of what you are doing in class. It helps apply physics to a real life situation,” Egan said.