Jet Propulsion

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In this two-part activity, learners work in pairs to examine the four basic stages of a turbine engine. During the first part of the lesson, learners visit three stations: Combustion, Compression, and Intake to discover what happens as different forces act on air. In the second part, learners build a model of a turbine engine. This activity emphasizes the scientific method including prediction, observation, data collection, and analysis. This lesson plan includes instructions on how to set up the stations, discussion questions, diagrams, black-line masters, and sample worksheets for learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Intake Station (items per class)
  • Small desk fan
  • One sheet of paper
  • Intake Station Directions (p8 of PDF)
  • For Compression Station (items per class)
  • Butcher paper
  • Two desk fans that are the same size
  • 20 6-inch lengths of string
  • 20 5x7-inch index cards
  • Tape
  • Two markers
  • Compression Station Directions (p9 of PDF)
  • For Combustion Station (items per class)
  • Flask, medium size
  • Balloon
  • Can of Sterno
  • Matches or lighter
  • Tongs
  • Combustion Station Directions (p10 of PDF)
  • For Part 2 (items per student)
  • cardboard paper towel core
  • flexible straw
  • 12"x12" sheet of aluminum foil
  • 4 paper circles 1-1/2" diameter
  • small 1-inch paper clip
  • 3-oz paper cup
  • pair of scissors
  • tape
  • glue (not glue sticks)
  • Copies of Student Work Sheet Part 2 (p13 of PDF)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Energy
      • Energy and Power
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • NASA


  • Public domain, ,