Discovering the work of Wernher von Braun
Dick, Dom and Fran from Absolute Genius describe the life and scientific work of Wernher von Braun. Wernher von Braun designed the rocket that sent Apollo 11 to the moon, and was described by NASA as “the greatest rocket scientist in history”. During the Second World War, he was a member of the Nazi party and worked for the German army developing the V2 missile. The V2 was constructed at the Mittelwerk site by prisoners from Mittelbau-Dora, a concentration camp where an estimated 20,000 prisoners died during the war. After 1945, despite his involvement with the Nazis, he was secretly hired by the US to work in their space program. Dick and Dom visit the East Anglian Rocketry Society to launch their own rocket, before explaining how it works. In the final part, Dick and Dom send a helium balloon to the edge of space.
This clip could inspire students to write and present a spoof news report on von Braun's work and the launch of Apollo11. They could conduct further research into the life and work of Wernher von Braun and consider if he deserves the title 'absolute genius', taking into consideration his involvement in the Nazi party. As a fun activity, students could investigate water rockets. They could change factors such as the amount of water and the shape and size of the rocket to discover how these factors effect how far the water rocket travels. Students could then design blueprints for their own space rockets, labelling the key elements.