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4th Grade Design Thinking Skill Builder Project

This winter the 4th grade students came to the design lab and applied what they learned in the 3rd grade Young Astronauts program by completely designing and building all components needed to launch model rockets. In the Young Astronauts program they learned about flight and basic circuits. Using this background knowledge, the students were put into teams and each team designed and built one element needed to successfully launch 3 class rockets.


The Teams

•The rocket team started out by sketching their rocket on paper. They then used Fusion 360 by Autodesk to make a digital drawing of the fins and nose cone. Parnell Pollioni took the drawings and used his laser cutter to make the fins. The nose cones were made at school on the 3D printer.

•The launch control team sketched out a schematic of the circuit that delivered an electric charge to ignite the rocket. The teams included lights, a key switch for safety, a fire button, and a few other components to make a complete circuit. This team also used Fusion 360 to design the control box which was cut on the laser cutter. Once they installed the parts in the box, they followed their schematic and soldered everything together. Next year we plan to have all students learn to solder in 4th grade.

•The final team was in charge of the launch pad and parachutes. They designed the launch pad in Fusion 360 and assembled all the parts that were cut on the laser cutter. The laser cutter was also used cut out the parachutes which we assembled by this team.


The 4th students successfully launched all 9 rockets with a couple of them landing on the school roofs. Unfortunately, we lost two nose cones to the trees in creek area due to a failure in line connecting the cone and altimeter to the parachute, something to redesign next year.


This group of 4th graders displayed an amazing amount of teamwork throughout this project and were a joy to work with.