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This material was developed for the Live From Mars project by Passport to Knowledge. Live From Mars was a precursor to Mars Team Online.

Name__________________________ Date__________________


  1. Following teacher direction, attach a fishing line to the ceiling (long enough to reach the floor.)
  2. Thread a straw through the fishing line. You will be attaching a balloon to the straw, nozzle end toward the floor.
  3. Predict the amount of fuel needed (the number of consistent pumps of air) to lift a balloon from a hand-held position on the floor, up to the ceiling.

    Prediction: _______________

  4. Complete several trials to determine the MINIMUM pumps of air necessary to lift the rocket balloon to ceiling.
  5. You will be attaching a payload, such as a spacecraft, to the top of the rocket. Predict the number of pumps of air to lift this new Mass to the same height. [The payload will be a Dixie cup taped upside down over the rounded end of the balloon, holding a predetermined number of paper clips.]

    Prediction: ________________

  6. Conduct several trials to determine the amount of fuel necessary to lift this load. Record data for each trial and post the results of each of your trials on the class data table on the board. All teams must come to CONSENSUS and agree to keep the number of pumps a controlled variable in each team's investigation.

    Experiment 1 (payload= 1 Dixie cup)
    Energy (# of pumps) Distance Traveled (m)
    TRIAL 1 ________________ ________________
    TRIAL 2 ________________ ________________
    TRIAL 3 ________________ ________________
    Average: ________________ ________________
    TRIAL 4 ________________ ________________

  7. Continue your investigation, adding additional weight. Experiment with the design changes to the rocket that might increase the rocket's lifting ability. For each trial keep a record of distance traveled, payload, and design.
  8. Be prepared to share the design elements that made your launch successful and ideas you think could be used to create an even more successful heavy-lift launcher.

Payload Distance Rocket Design
Trial 1 _______ _______ ________________________
Trial 2 _______ _______ ________________________
Trial 3 _______ _______ ________________________
Trial 4 _______ _______ ________________________
Trial 5 _______ _______ ________________________


  • Can you eliminate the paper cup from the rocket and have it still carry paper clips?

  • If each balloon costs one million dollars and you need to lift 100 paper clips, how much money would you need to spend? Can you think of a way to cut this cost?

IF TIME ALLOWS.. check with your teacher!
Without attaching the paper cup as a payload carrier, measure the distance the balloon travels along the string in a horizontal, vertical, and 45 degree angle. Analyze your data. What might account for different data?


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