Thursday, April 28, 2011

Source for Model Rockets

During Rocket Week, a number of students asked, "where do you buy the model rockets?"  Our rockets were purchased from Estes Rockets and delivered within a few days.  Estes has been producing model rockets for decades; they provide safe products that suit all skill levels.  We've noticed that Hobby Lobby in Dothan carries a good selection of their products.  Here is a link to the Estes site if you would like to learn more and checkout their online catalog:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Earn a Reward - Challenges of CleanUp from Deepwater Horizon

Just over a year ago, the Deepwater Horizon, an oil-drilling rig deployed to the Gulf of Mexico, malfunctioned and exploded.  This tragedy cost 11 men their lives, injured many, and resulted in an estimated 180,000,000 millions gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf. 
Scientists took a variety of measures to: (1) shut off the flow of oil from the ocean floor, (2) address the large volume of oil spilled into the gulf and the shore areas, and (3) attempt to minimize the damage to the wildlife and eco-system.
Often, the solutions to a problem create new problems.  For example, large volumes of material were poured into the Gulf of Mexico to absorb the oil.  While the absorbent was useful, it was also toxic (poisonous).  Crews also used inflatable tubes (boom) to block the oil from delicate marsh areas and beaches.  The booms helped however they were heavily soiled by the oil and those devices which are now disposed of, have contaminated many of our landfills.   Leaders rely on scientists and engineers to help them make good decisions on how to address problems.
Earn a Reward ! – Your answers are due by class on Friday
1 – On what day did the Deepwater Horizon explode?
2 – How many days did it leak oil into the Gulf of Mexico?
3 – Name three states that were directly affected by the oil spill
4 – Name three occupations/jobs that have been adversely affected by the oil spill
5 – It’s estimated that 180 Million gallons of oil (24 Million cu ft) were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.  If all the oil was captured in a container the size of a football field, how deep would it be?  Assume that a football field is 360 feet long (including end zones) and 160 feet wide.  There are also 7.5 gallons in one cubic foot.
6 – Think like a scientist !  Give an example of another problem where the “cure” may also have some penalties that need to be considered. 

Want to know more about oil drilling?  Check out this cool link…..

Thursday, April 21, 2011

12 Teams - 12 Rockets - 12 Launches - 12 "Wows!"

This afternoon was the completion of 5th Grade Rocket Week.  We fired all 12 rockets taking measurements on flight duration and altitude.  The rockets went even higher than expected - we had several that went 260 feet or higher!

Great work 5th graders!  Enjoy your Easter weekend - we will see you back in class on Monday.














We Build 'Em - So We Can Launch 'Em

 Each of twelve 5th grade teams was given a rocket kit to assemble and decorate.
Students learned that rockets are fragile, they have to be built with precision, and they are fun!

Take a look at some of our students putting finishing touches on their rockets!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NASA Explorer Schools - Cool

This week Mrs D qualified to become a NASA EXPLORER SCHOOL educator.  What does this mean for GW Long 5th Grade ?  Our students will get special access to resources linking science, technology, engineering, math, and real world challenges.

It's awesome to know that we are in the process of inspring our future inventors, innovators, and leaders!


To maximize time in flight for a model rocket do you use a larger (and heavier) recovery system or do you instead use a smaller, lighter (but less effective) recovery system.  That is exactly the problem that our 5th grade Science students will evaluate this week using the Scientific Method.  On Thursday, we will launch 12 rockets, recover them, and take measurements to determine the best approach.


Mission Patches Define the Spirit of Our Launch Teams

Every NASA Space Mission is distinguished by a unique patch that identifies their mission and the crew members.  Take a look at the Mission Patches designed by our launch teams - these are awesome !  Our teams will work together all week, building their rockets, formulating hypotheses, performing launch, recovery, and taking measurements.

Monday, April 18, 2011


It's Rocket Week in 5th Grade.  Monday thru Thursday we will study rockets and recovery systems and we will conduct an experiment to compare recovery system designs.

Today we learned about the basic parts of a rocket and flight profiles.  Students initiated construction of 12 rockets and designed Mission Patches for each team.   Thursday is Launch Day !!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Using Sound to "See" - Amazing Bats

Ever wonder how bats navigate so well during the night and even in the darkest of caves?  Bats don't have very good eyesight, instead they generate very high sounds and then listen for the echoes.  The echoes provide information on what is ahead - thus they "see" using sound instead of light.  This amazing feature is called "sonar".  Sonar is also used by the porpoise and by submarines.

In a bat–swarm, in cave or night air, a bat can know its own sound among thousands of mobile neighbours, detecting its own signals even if they are 2000 times fainter than background noises. It can “see” prey, such as a fruitfly, up to 100 feet away by echo location and catch four or five in a second. And this whole auditory system weighs a fraction of a gram! Ounce for ounce, watt for watt, it is millions of times more efficient and more sensitive than the radars and sonars contrived by man.  The bat “sees” with sound better than light.

Understanding and Demonstrating How Sounds are Produced

This week we are studying sound.   To demonstrate how sound works, we made devices that generate sounds with different frequencies.

Musical instruments are designed (and they are tuned) to produce tones with specific frequencies (notes).  Changing the length or the tension of a string on a piano, or guitar changes the frequency making it higher or lower.  On woodwinds, changing the length and diameter of a pipe will change the frequency. 

In these photos, we are cutting simple drinking straws to different lengths then blowing across them, showing that changes in length affect the sound.   Longer straws generate lower tones and shorter straws produce higher tones.

Scientists measure sound energy in units called decibels.  When humans hear a high sound (jet engine) and compare it to a low sound (waves crashing or thunder) of equal energy, do they perceive that higher frequency sounds are louder, lower frequency sounds are louder, or both the same?  Ask Mrs D to find out the answer!

MODEL ROCKETS COMING TO 5TH GRADE ! - But who is the inventor of modern rocketry?

Robert Goddard: A Man and His Rocket
On March 16, 1926, Robert Goddard successfully launched the first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Mass. The first-of-its-kind rocket reached an altitude of 41 feet, lasted 2 seconds and averaged about 60 miles per hour. Dr. Goddard with one of his rockets
Goddard wrote in his autobiography about an inspiration that came to him as a boy while up in a cherry tree pruning branches: "I imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars.... "

In 1907, while a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, Goddard experimented on a rocket powered by gunpowder in the basement of the physics building. Clouds of smoke caused a lot of commotion and the faculty, rather than expel him, took an interest in his work.  (Caution: Dale County School System might not be quite as forgiving!)

In 1920, the Smithsonian published his original paper, "A Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes," in which he included a small section stressing that rockets could be used to send payloads to the Moon. The next day, the New York Times wrote a scathing editorial denouncing his theories as folly.  He responded to a reporter's question by stating, "Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace."A day after Apollo 11 set off for the Moon, in July of 1969, the New York Times printed a correction to its 1920 editorial section, stating that "it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error."

To read more, check out the following link:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ears and Microphones - Both are Sound Receivers ! - AWARD Opportunity

Your eardrum is a piece of skin just like a stretched balloon. It vibrates when sounds reach your ear. Bones that touch the eardrum carry the vibrations to your inner ear, where they are detected and translated into signals to the brain. Here is a diagram of the ear. Can you explain why sounds aren't as loud when you cover your ear?

A microphone is very much like an ear. Sounds make a surface vibrate, which moves a magnetic coil that produces electrical signals. Those signals are then sent to an amplifier or stereo receiver.  Here is a diagram of a microphone.

Here is a diagram of a loudspeaker. It's like an ear working backwards. (It's also like a microphone working backwards.)  It changes electrical signals into sound vibrations. How does it look like an eardrum? How does the loud speaker work like an ear in reverse?

To receive your award, answer the following by class on Friday:

  • The eardrum is also called the _______________ membrane.
  • When you play a drum, the resulting sound is because the drum head (the surface of the drum that you strike) is _______________. 
  • In 1924, two General Electric researchers patented a design for the modern loudspeaker.  What were the names of these two scientists?
  • It can be difficult to design a single size speaker that can handle a large range of sounds.  Many stereo systems use one size speaker to produce low sounds, another size to produce mid-range and still another to produce high sounds.  Name one of these special types of speakers.
Thanks to Concord Consortium and TEEMSS2 Website:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Great View of International Space Station Tues Morn 6:05am

Love to see those satellites?  The International Space Station (ISS) will be easy to view on Tuesday morning.  It will be in the Northeast sky at 38 degrees azimuth and it will be at 67 degrees elevation.  (67 degrees is not directly overhead but is high in the sky.)  You'll be able to see the ISS at 6:05am, moving across the sky from left to right.

5th Graders Experiment with Color

 5th Grade Science students studied color last week.  To cap off the lesson, each student made his/her own personalized shirt.  We applied colors to the shirts then applied rubbing alcohol to make the inks disperse.  

The results were pretty cool !  Colors merge together making new colors and hard lines or dots blur into funky shapes.

Be sure to find a 5th Grade Science student this week and ask to see their shirt !  Every one of them is a unique work of art (and Science)!