Our Pick for 5th Grade Engineering is “How We Got to the Moon”

Our curriculum choice for 5th grade engineering is quite simple: students should read John Rocco’s How We Got to the Moon.

How We Got to the Moon

Even today, the moon landing of 1969 continues to inspire new generations of inquisitive minds to begin their first steps into the fields of aerospace engineering and rocketry.

How We Got to the Moon perfectly captures the struggles and numerous failures that ultimately led to the success of America’s Apollo program.  Although it covers a rather intense topic, the book’s presentation ensures that it remains accessible to 5th grade students.  It does a fantastic job of distilling complex ideas into short and simple explanations, and also splits up its more technical pages with biographical sketches of the many heroes who worked on this marvel of human innovation.  Moreover, the book is filled with beautiful and clear illustrations that make it quite enjoyable to read.

Engineering Topics Covered

The book presents engineering in a simple problem/solution format: it first describes a specific problem in detail, and then describes how the Apollo engineers designed a solution. Some examples of the engineering topics covered include:

  • The Saturn V rocket’s staging system, including a detailed examination of the challenges associated with each stage.
  • The fuel systems, including problems associated with maintaining tank pressure and controlling heat transfer.
  • Development of the F-1 engines, including the engine cooling systems.
  • The guidance systems, including inertial platforms and the Apollo Guidance Computer.
  • The life support systems, including water management, atmosphere control, and thermal control.
  • … and much more.

After reading the book, students will certainly be left in awe of the extraordinary ingenuity that made the moon landings possible. They’ll also gain a deeper understanding of what engineering actually entails, and have a better idea of whether it could be a suitable career path. Finally, they’ll be able to talk about aerospace engineering at a level of depth that will put most adults to shame – including more than a few practicing engineers.

Part of a Larger Curriculum

Later on, our high school curriculum revisits the topic of aerospace engineering in a big way. By giving your child How We Got to the Moon at this early stage, you’ll be preparing the groundwork for a very fulfilling follow-up.

At the time of writing, How We Got to the Moon is available for purchase from Amazon at a price of $16.99 (not a sponsored link).

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