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Newton’s laws were never so much fun

Jamestown High School physics class students got a taste of rocket science on Monday as part of a project-based learning experience.

Students of Lynn Kosel, chair of the JHS chemistry and physics department, launched specially designed water bottle rockets on the north side of the school building. The rockets relate to the current unit of study on the concept of forces and Sir Isaac Newton's three laws of motion.

“The students will be able to explain the motion of their rockets based on the explanations of the the laws,” Kosel said. “Students will also perform some mathematical calculations about the rockets based on their observations during the rocket launches.”

Harmony Hennings, who built a rocket with classmates Julia Shirley and Joseph Kasti, said the project gave perspective to Newton's three laws of motion regarding inertia, acceleration and reaction. The students pumped air into the rockets containing water to build pressure so that forces propel it into flight with reactive forces slowing the descent.

“You can actually visually see it,” Hennings said of Newton's laws.

The physics class is an elective and so everyone in the class likes the subject, Kasti said. It was also nice to be working outside, he said.

“This really allows us to see what we are learning,” Kasti said.

Colton Carlson and Jacob Anteau had the longest rocket at about 3 feet.

“This allows more stability on the way up because there is more surface area fighting any change in direction,” Anteau said. “If it happens to turn on its side then the surface area would increase the drag and slow the rocket down.”

Carlson said he and Anteau built some rocket parts in the JHS Makerspace manufacturing lab that is designed to support project-based learning for any class. He uses a laser cutter to make the rocket’s wooden vertical stabilizers.

“It was just a really fun challenge to try and figure out how to get the least amount of drag possible on the way up and the most amount of drag on the way down,” Carlson said. “We had to use a lot of our physics knowledge for it.”

Ben Weinzierl and Jaden Haskel partnered on a rocket. The two students said the planning involved designing and building the wings, cone and body with changes along the way to get the rocket to perform as they wanted.

“I think it was really good to do this because most of the time we just do everything theoretically in the classroom,” Weinzierl said. “But to actually do it like this is a learning experience.”