Compressed Air Vehicle

*Please note that while this unit is complete, we are in the process of updating both the curriculum and the standards.

This activity will introduce students to the use of compressed air as a means of propulsion.  The goal is to allow students to discover the relationship between the amount of compressed air and the distance a vehicle is able to travel to determine the viability of compressed air for propulsion.
Jet engines, also known as ramjets operate on the same basic principle as a balloon propelled vehicle: compressed air from the atmosphere leaves the engine (as a force known as thrust) at a higher pressure (and therefore a higher speed) than the air surrounding it.  A scramjet is a variation of a ramjet distinguished by supersonic combustion (supersonic combustion ramjet).  The scramjet essentially consists of a constricted tube through which air is collected from the atmosphere and compressed by the high speed of the vehicle; a combustion chamber through which the air flows to combust the fuel; and an exhaust nozzle to send the exhaust air out at a higher speed and temperature than the inlet air, effectively generating force/thrust.  There are few or no moving parts.
Seeing its potential, organizations around the world are currently researching scramjet technology.  The United States Air Force is developing supersonic ramjets and scramjets to obtain the ability to fly to China from New York in two hours; currently this takes thirteen to fifteen hours.  Current research at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in this field can be explored through links provided in the additional resources section.
Students will investigate the essential question using proper tools of measurement, proper methods of recording, and maintaining the same conditions, while describing, illustrating, and evaluating the design process and then record and analyze data using a MS excel program.

Science & Technology Grade 4 – Benchmark B: Describe and illustrate the design process.
Scientific Inquiry Grade 4 – Benchmark A: Use appropriate instruments safely to observe, measure and collect data when conducting a scientific investigation.
Grade 4 -Benchmark C: Develop, design and safely conduct scientific investigations and communicate the results.
Scientific Ways of Knowing Grade 4 – Benchmark C: Explain the importance of keeping records of observations and investigations that are accurate and understandable.
Geometry & Spatial Sense Grade 4 – Benchmark A. Provide rationale for groupings and comparisons of two-dimensional figures and three-dimensional objects.
Patterns, Functions, & Algebra Grade 4 – Benchmark F. Construct and use a table of values to solve problems associated with mathematical relationships.
Grade 4 – Benchmark G. Describe how a change in one variable affects the value of a related variable.
Data Analysis & Probability Grade 4 – Benchmark A. Gather and organize data from surveys and classroom experiments, including data collected over a period of time.
Grade 4 – Benchmark B. Read and interpret tables, charts, graphs (bar, picture, line, line plot), and timelines as sources of information, identify main idea, draw conclusions, and make predictions.
Grade 4 – Benchmark C. Construct charts, tables and graphs to represent data, including picture graphs, bar graphs, line graphs, line plots and Venn diagrams.
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