Challenge Team Interim Report
Team Number: 028
School Name: Clovis High School
Area of Science: Physics
Project Title: Projecting the Actual Course of a Rocket
While the teams at Clovis High School were getting settled, team 028
has been brainstorming about the nature of the programming and the
experiments, along with doing research about the nature of rockets in
During this time, we determined most of the variables that needed to be considered in our experiments and in our programming. The obvious variables were weight, thrust, drag, and direction of travel. The hidden variables that we determined were wind speed, center of gravity, varying mass, and torque created by the various forces. To determine some of these, we have to include the moment of inertia of the rocket, the coefficient of drag and its relation to orientation and wind speed. We then needed a way to determine some of the constants.
Luckily, here at Clovis High School, a small wind tunnel is available to help us experiment with some of these variables and to do some physical modeling. After securing permission to use the wind tunnel, we learned that a scale model of our rocket will suffice in our wind tunnel testing. In the coming weeks, we plan to actually build a scale model of our rocket and determine the coefficient of drag and to find a way to relate wind speed and rocket orientation to drag. After the scale model testing, we will incorporate all the variables we have determined into our program.
Another thing we learned from our research is that we have to calculate the orientation of the rocket many times a second for our program to be accurate. Without including the rocket's orientation and wind speed, the problem would be easy enough to solve in ten minutes with a four-function calculator. To make this problem applicable to the real world, we will have to figure these variables. To calculate these variables, we may have to run thousands of iterations for a simulated second. After we have the program in working order, we will determine how small the period per iteration will be. This will mark the completion of the development of our program.
After we complete writing the program in C++, we will field test our rocket on the high school track. Field-testing will consist of launching the rocket at a specified angle and measuring the wind speed, time in flight, height reached and horizontal distance traveled. We will then put the same variables into our program and compare results. More than likely, we should have to repeat this step several times because we will probably have to modify programming with each test. In the end, we should be able to accurately model a rocket in flight numerically, given the initial conditions.