Launch Altitude Tracker

Using PVC pipe and aquarium tubing, build an altitude tracker. Pupils then use the altitude tracker, along with a tangent table, to calculate the altitude of a launched rocket using the included data collection sheet.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Use the altitude trackers to measure stationary objects, such as flag poles, trees, and buildings before trying to determine the altitude of a rocket
  • Use the altitude trackers in conjunction with a lesson on trigonometric ratios
  • For younger learners, create the table for a specified distance that gives the results of the altitude so they do not need to calculate anything
Classroom Considerations

  • Build one or two altitude trackers before class

  • The directions for building the altitude tracker are easy to follow 
  • The plan provides a way to counteract the effects of the wind on the calculations of the altitude

  • The expression for determining the average of the altitudes is incomplete
Common Core