If you have students who are into sports, but not science, this might be the book that hooks them into STEM forever. When Leland Melvin was a kid and he wanted a new skateboard, his dad told him to build one. In the activity below, he tells kids how to build their own rocket racer. Then, he challenges kids to improve on his design by substituting his suggested materials with other materials. Be sure to check out the website link for other suggested activities.
Activity Name: Build a Rocket Racer
Activity Description: "When Leland wanted to buy a new skateboard, his father challenged him to build one. He soon learned how different aspects of design – the length and shape of the board or the size of the wheels – could change how fast the skateboard would go. Follow the directions below to construct your own rocket-propelled vehicle. You can experiment with ways to increase the distance your racer travels or its speed by modifying your design – just like Leland experimented with ways to make his skateboard go faster! If you build your racer with friends you can hold drag races for speed or compete for distance.
In this activity you will investigate basic forces that impact motion - position, velocity, and acceleration. All of these are related to Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion that govern our world and provide the foundation for rocket science. The three Laws of Motion deal with position, velocity and acceleration:
• Position is an explanation of where something is, based on a certain origin (or starting place).
• Velocity is the speed and direction something is moving.
• Acceleration is how velocity changes with time."
Whether it be for one specific student, a small group of kids, or a whole class, finding a "just right" book makes the teacher's and the students' day.