Brilliant Futures: It’s Rocket Science – Junk Pile Engineers Workshop


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During this exciting workshop, our Brilliant Futures Introductory Year students were given the opportunity to explore the science behind rockets, flight and space by creating and testing a stable rocket of their own design. Students modified their rockets between flights to optimise their design in an endeavour to achieve the greatest flight distance. Our empty carpark (on a Saturday) was the perfect location for field testing purposes, where students applied scientific testing principles to predict, observe and evaluate the performance of their individual rockets.  

Student Reflections

"Our rocket workshop started with a video of a lot of different rockets (a lot of them blew up). We were asked some questions about how rockets work while being shown a presentation. As part of the presentation we learnt about why rockets need to be stable.

After that we were shown an experiment in which a normal bottle, with a string attached to its centre of mass, was spun around and was found to be unstable. When fins were added, it was a bit more stable, but not perfect. Finally, a nose cone was added and it was all stable.

I made my rocket and decorated it with a blue band with "Cosmos 1" written on it in green letters. We took them out to the carpark to launch them. First we filled them with water before lining up to attach them to an air pump. Next we pumped them with compressed air. Finally, when we pressed a button they all launched into the air! Some of them went 80 metres!" - David

"The rocket science workshop was very interesting and interactive! We were able to make and launch our own rockets into the air with water! Each of us filled our rockets with the amount of water we wanted, the amount of water varied the distance our rockets would go! We measured our distances and some people's rockets flew 50 metres! We then had drag races at the end. Overall it was very amusing!" - Hazell

"The magic of rocket science, albeit supposedly complicated, was the wonder that greeted the twenty or so of us when we entered the lecture theatre. As we listened to the facts and figures, a door opened for us, even if only for a few hours, into a world of science and physics that can change the planet. After experimenting with rocket stability, we created our own recycled rockets from bottles, tennis balls and cardboard. A chorus of 'oohs' greeted the first trial rocket flight, a bottle filled completely with air that made a stentorian noise. The second flight, 100% water, was definitely a flop. (or First Attempt In Learning…) A shock rippled through all of us when the third flight, half water and half air, which we all expected to land somewhere in the middle, shot much farther than the 100% air rocket, over 70 metres. Everyone was allowed a measured flight, filling our rockets with as much water as we wanted, then it was time for races! Five rockets shooting at once, all racing against each other. A few people decided to fly five air rockets at once… and we thought one was loud! The experience was fun and exciting, something we don't get to do on a regular basis. It was a fascinating experience for all of us, and I hope we have more opportunities to do these workshops in the Brilliant Futures program." - Alisha

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Mrs Christina Rekort-Blundell
Brilliant Futures Coordinator 

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Last reviewed 16 June 2020
Last updated 16 June 2020