When students engage with Stem subjects in an inspiring way, the seeds for a better future are planted. The Discovery Space is a digital portal where young people can learn about science through aerospace. Brought to you by the Airbus Foundation, this virtual learning environment is a place where teachers can find tools to help young people engage with Stem topics in a new and exciting way.

The goal of the Airbus Foundation is to use the fascinating power of its industry and its future to inspire the next generation and help them overcome the challenges they will face. With the Airbus Foundation Discovery Space, the Airbus Foundation is looking to complement its hands on and mentoring initiatives such as the Airbus Flying Challenge and Airbus Little Engineer with a digital tool to keep engaging with students around the world. Through the series of articles and Stem engineering resources in this hub, the Foundation aims to provide ideas for how teachers can get students inspired and motivated by Stem subjects, and what can be achieved through them, thus inspiring the next generation of space scientists, technicians and engineers.

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Airbus Discovery Space Activity 1: Rocket Designs

This activity has been designed to span several lessons and provides an introduction to rocket design that will be important in later activities. It incorporates many different maths skills (see below). The activities have been designed to be completed by students individually, or in pairs. The activity can be easily adapted for the needs of your particular class by removing any content deemed unsuitable. No special material are needed, although for the More Rockets task, students will need access to the internet.

This project can incorporate the following areas of maths, with the option to remove components if they are not suitable for your class:
● Place value
● Metric conversions
● Averages and range
● Estimation
● Representing data
● Standard form

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Airbus Discovery Space Activity 2: Build a Rocket!

This activity has been designed to span several lessons, and is where students put what they have learned in Activity 1 into practice by actually designing and building their own water rockets.

It incorporates many different maths skills (see below), as well as non-maths specific skills like teamwork and communication.
It is a group work task which works best with groups of 2 or 3 people.

It can be easily adapted for the needs of your particular class. For example, on the Measurement sheet, any concepts that the students have not yet encountered (such as volume of a cone) can be deleted. Likewise, the scale drawing can be simplified by not asking for the plan and elevation, and by giving students squared paper.

This project can incorporate the following areas of maths, with the option to remove components if they are not suitable for your class:
● Money calculations
● Estimation
● Measuring lengths and weights
● Calculating area
● Calculating volume
● Density
● Scale drawing
● Drawing plans and elevations

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Airbus Discovery Space Activity 3: Test your rocket

In this activity students test the rockets that they have designed and constructed in Activity 2. Data is recorded which will be used in this activity to make comparisons with the rest of the class, and in the next activity to determine the perfect rocket.
For each rocket flight, two variables can be measured: height and time in the air. Ideally you will measure both, but whilst time in the air merely requires a stopwatch, height requires the availability of an altitude measuring device. The maths behind this are covered in the first student activity. This can be omitted if you think it is too complex for your students, and instead you can complete the rest of the activities by just measuring time in the air. However, it may still be worth showing students the video in the first student activity to address the difficulties of measuring height.

This project can incorporate the following areas of maths, with the option to remove components if they are not suitable for your class:
● Right-angled Trigonometry
● Measuring time
● Recording data
● Constructing and interpreting Bar charts
● Constructing and interpreting Pie charts
● Constructing and interpreting Stem and leaf diagram
● Constructing and interpreting Cumulative frequency diagrams
● Constructing and interpreting Box and whisker plots
● Constructing and interpreting Histograms
● Constructing and interpreting Scatter diagrams and correlation
● Calculating and interpreting the mean, median and range
● Working out best value
● Comparing sets of data using statistical justifications

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Airbus Discovery Space Activity 4: The Perfect Rocket

In this activity, students will make use of the data they collected in Activity 3, both in
terms of data on their own rocket flight, and data from the rest of the class. Students will
be able to use scatter diagrams to identify any relationships between weight, length and
cost of a rocket, the time the rocket was in the air, and the maximum height it reached.
They will then have the opportunity to build models out of this data that may allow them
to predict the length, weight and cost for the perfect rocket. This part of the activity
works best if you can get access to a computer room and make use of Desmos, but it
can be completed just using pencil and paper. As ever, components of this activity can
be added and removed as you see fit.

This project can incorporate the following areas of maths, with the option to remove
components if they are not suitable for your class:
● Plotting scatter diagrams
● Drawing lines of best fit
● Identifying and commenting on correlations
● Calculating the product moment correlation coefficient
● Equation of a straight line
● Fitting linear functions to data
● Equation of a quadratic function
● Fitting quadratic functions to data
● Using completing the square to calculate the maximum point of a quadratic function
● Using differentiation to calculate the maximum point of a quadratic function

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Airbus Discovery Space Activity 5: The Extra Weight Challenge

This final activity gives students a chance to revisit the work they did in Activities 2, 3 and 4 but with a different goal in mind - to design and build a rocket that can carry a weight above a given height. All the maths skills covered in the previous four activities are covered again but in a different context, giving students the opportunity to consolidate or extend their existing knowledge.

It is up to you whether you let them completely rebuild their rockets, using the instructions in Activity 2, or just modify them within the constraints of a budget/time.

Likewise, just like with Activity 3, if you do not have the means to measure the height the rockets reach, then you could modify this activity to require the rockets to stay in the air for a given amount of time.
As ever, parts of this activity can be extended or removed as you deem necessary. Specifically, you may wish to reduce or increase the target height depending on the success of the rockets in Activity 2. It is also worth noting that students should not need as long with any aspect as this is essentially their second run through.

EXTRA MATERIALS NEEDED:

  • Weights, ideally in 100g or 200g multiples.

CURRICULUM LINKS

  • All the same skills from Activities, 2, 3 and 4.
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