Catherine N - Nerf Rockets

Nerf Rockets


9c: Distinguish between variable and controlled parameters in a test.


To tests rockets varying one variable at a time and then to create to best rocket.


  • Split students into 8 groups.
  • Each group will receive 3 pre-built rockets and each group will have a different variable.
    • Group 1: Vary length of rocket
    • Group 2: Number of rubber-bands to launcher
    • Group 3: Number of Fins
    • Group 4: Placement of Fins
    • Group 5: Force applied when being launched
    • Group 6: Angle of Launch
    • Group 7: Weight in nose of rocket
    • Group 8: Width of Fins
  • Each group will launch each of their three rockets three times and record the distance the rocket goes when launched.
  • Each group will find the mean distance that each type of rocket went and choose which of their rockets performed best.
  • The class comes together and exchanges data.
  • As a class we discuss and decide which combination of variables would perform best.
  • As a class we can then build and test the "ultimate rocket" using the best choice for each variable.


    This activity is important because it really highlights the importance of testing one variable at a time.  You can discuss with your students that when trying to solve a problem or to find the best way to do something, it is important to isolate variables and work with them one at a time.  I always use the example that if you are doing a science fair project, you can't give one plant lots of water, lots of light, and plant food and the other no plant food, little light, and minimal water and then determine which factor effected the plant.  You must look at each factor alone.
Norman Herr,
Apr 27, 2011, 10:37 PM