Analyzing Data From A Space Shuttle Ascent

Analyzing Data From A Space Shuttle Ascent

Subject: Physics
Time: 45 minutes
Level: High School Physics


Students will use spreadsheet software (Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets) to learn about the relationship between time, distance, velocity, and acceleration and develop skills with visualizing and analyzing data.

Student Outcomes
Knowledge (Students will understand that...)

  • Motion can be visualized using graphs of position, velocity, and acceleration.
  • Velocity is the change in position over time. 
  • Acceleration is the change in velocity over time. 
  • A space shuttle experiences changes in position, velocity and acceleration during its ascent into space.

Skills (Students will be able to...)

  • “Tell the story” of the motion of a shuttle based on graphs of its altitude, velocity, and acceleration.
  • Use computational tools to create data visualizations and analyze data sets.

Epistemologies (Students will learn that...)

  • Data describing the position, velocity, and acceleration of the shuttle provide insight into what’s happening to the shuttle at each stage of its ascent.
  • Computational tools make it possible to visualize and analyze data in order to reveal patterns.


The teacher will assess and give feedback based on the student’s accurate and clearly-explained responses to the analysis and reflection questions.


Lesson adapted from content on www.nasa.gov

Compatible With




chrome books



What's Next?


Next Generation Science Standards
  • Physical Science
    • [HS-PS2] Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

Computational Thinking in STEM
  • Data Practices
    • Analyzing Data
    • Visualizing Data

Comments, Feedback, and Quesitons

Analyzing Data From A Space Shuttle Ascent

Teacher Notes

Lesson Extension

Students could get experience with the computational thinking standard of Manipulating Data:
Convert data so that it can be visualized on a single chart in a useful way. Altitude would get converted to km, velocity to decameters/s, and acceleration would stay the same. Looks like this: