Reusable Rockets

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This activity (located on page 3 of the PDF under GPS: Garbology Activity) is a full inquiry investigation into design optimization using recycled materials. Groups of learners will design a study that seeks out the relationship between the amount of water carried by rockets built from used soda bottles and their total flight times, ultimately graphing their results to determine a point of diminishing return. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Garbology.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

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


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 2 2-Liter soda bottles per rocket
  • stiff cardboard for fins
  • duct tape
  • a small orange sports cone, 1 per rocket
  • clay
  • string
  • a garbage bag
  • a metric water volume measuring device
  • a stop watch
  • a rocket Launch pad (available from
  • goggles, 1 pair per person


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Rate
    • Number and Operations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Acceleration
      • Projectile Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2007

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 610429