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Teacher Information

Content Areas:

Earth and space science, physics of forces and motion, chemical reactions


A high school boy in a coal mining town is inspired by Sputnik to explore rocketry. His science teacher helps him enter the science fair. He and his partners win the science fair and a life beyond Coalwood.

Good Science:

Rocket parts and functions are accurately described. Proper lab safety is modeled by students. Correct explanations are given for the motion of propellant gas through the nozzle of a rocket.

Bad Science:

Students in the film did not show their careful documentation of their experiments. Such documentation is described in the book, Rocket Boys. The boys unsafely prepare rocket fuel with alcohol over an open flame.

Note to teachers:

Warn students that rocketry is a dangerous activity: proper equipment, safety practices, supervision and knowledge are required.
This film is recommended for high school classes only, due to mature language ("ass, damn, hell, son of a bitch")

World Wide Web Sites:

The Universal Pictures October Sky Study Guide is available from http://www.universalpictures.copm/octobersky/studyguide
Homer Hickam, Jr.'s website at
The Heavens Above site for visual spotting of satellites
WebWings from the Academy of Model Aeronautics at

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Copyright 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008