Sunday, April 6, 2014

Outdoor fun with Science and Geometry

The spring weather has called us outdoors many days in the last few weeks. Friday we decided to take our study of Geometry to a new level. We combined science and geometry in a fun little project. T had a lot of fun practicing his new protractor skills and spotting angles in the real world.

We started out with a little nature walk where we looked for angles in nature and man-made objects along the way. This stick was the first thing T spotted angles on. We brought along some sidewalk chalk to mark the angles and he used his protractor to measure them. He knew just by looking which was obtuse and which acute.

We found many angles on a picnic table we came across.

And right angles on this park bench (it was a bit windy)

We found a right angled isosceles in the parking lot 
(this was the parking lot for the playground and there were no cars so it was safe to stop and break out the protractor)

At this point it was too windy to perform our science experiment so we went home for lunch. Luckily, the wind died down in a couple of hours and we were able to go back outside and work while B napped.

Angles on our driveway.

A little practice on adding angles, 100º plus 80º equals 180º, or a straight line.

Oh look, the grass is turning green finally. Found an acute angle of concrete next to an obtuse angle of grass.

Our garage door is covered in right angles

Our science experiment was determining at what angle would we get the most distance with a straw rocket. We used this wonderful printable that I found through this blog.

The directions show how to make one of these cute little mini paper rockets. A template is provided and you just cut it out and roll it around a pencil, then attach the fins with tape. T decided to add a little color to his rockets before we cut them out. We decided to make two rockets to give more accurate results. Most science experiments need a good size pool of results to be accurate. At home it was just the two of us performing this experiment so we made two rockets and each of us did the experiment with each rocket. This helped us fill in the charge provided in the printable which is made for groups of 3 or 4 students. 

Once you build your rocket, you place a straw inside and blow as hard as you can to launch it.

We took our rockets, protector, tape measure and chalk outside. We marked the starting line with chalk and the launcher stood behind the line. Then we lined up the rocket to the proper angles using the protractor and launched the rocket. We measured the distance the rocket travelled and recorded it on our chart.
(not the best picture because I had to hold the protractor and the camera at the same time, but you get the idea)

Ready, Aim.....


Before we performed the experiment, T was asked to predict which angle would produce the farthest distance. The four angles tested were 90º, 70º, 45º and 20º. He chose the 45º angle. He knew that the 90º angle would give the least distance because it is meant to make rockets go straight up. He didn't really know why he thought the 45º angle was best except that it was not the closest to 90º like 70º is and its not the furthest away like 20º is. 

Here is our result chart
(in the launcher # boxes I added notes as to what color the rocket was (Green/Red, Blue/Orange) and the first initial of the person who launched it so we could keep track.)
We used inches instead of cm because our tape measure wasn't metric. 

As you can see from the chart, T was correct about the 45º angle being the best angle if you are trying to shot your rocket the longest distance. I drew a little diagram for him to show what that was the case. (the inches at the bottom are just a rounded average of distance we got for each angle)

When we were done with our experiment, T mentioned that he was going to use this new information at his track & field practice when he throws his mini javelin so that he can throw it a longer distance. 


  1. The rocket experiment is so cool! And that is great charting work too. I need to fine ways to work more of that in to our learning.

  2. Great ideas with getting out of the classroom to do activities!