Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fantastic Flight! - April 30, 2015

This is a project I do with the students, 1st grade to 6th grade, every year because they love it. And I love it, too. Why? This project is full of opportunities for creativity and experimentation. Possibilities are endless!

The motto for this project is - Fail Spectacularly! I ask the students to push the envelope and come up with something very different from others. I challenge them, and every year, they meet the challenge in spades.

I get the gliders from the nearby hobby store, Sheldon's Hobbies, and I get them at a discount, which helps me keep the costs down. I usually buy single wing plane, but in the last couple of years, I've bought bi-planes. These are a little more complicated, but it's also more interesting to mix up the kits a bit.

A warning, though. These glider kits are rather fragile. One student broke the wing in four different places. So, I usually start off by telling them to be extra careful, and in lower grades, I show them how I shimmy the wing into the glider body.

Supplies List:
  • Wooden glider kit (1 kit/student)
  • Cardstock (2 sheets/student)
  • Scotch Tape
Building Instructions:
  1. Hand out the glider kit and tell the students to put it together by following instructions (I show the 1st and 2nd graders how to put them together).
  2. Go fly the glider outside and tell the students to watch how it flies through the air. Allow the students to fly the gliders several times.
  3.  Once back in the class, tell the students to take the gliders apart. The only part they can use for the next phase of the project is the body.
  4. Hand out a sheet of cardstock paper to each student. 
  5. Tell the students to make new parts with cardstock paper. There's only one rule - the new glider parts must be a different shape and size from the original wooden parts.
  6. Encourage the students to fly their new gliders and make improvements.
  7. About 2/3 way through the class time, hand out another piece of cardstock paper and ask them to design another glider, preferably a very different design from the first glider.
  8. Again, encourage them to fly the gliders and make improvements throughout. I've learned over the years that students don't need more than a piece of cardstock paper to make all the parts. 
  9. I usually have two different contests - distance flier and trick flier. Here's the secret. It doesn't matter whether their gliders fly far or do tricks. What I'm trying to encourage is creativity, problem-solving skills, and perseverance.
Here are pictures of the gliders I've used in the past & what the biplane glider looks like:

There are a lot of pictures here. I thought about take some of them out, but I thought I'd give you the choice of checking it out or not. 

Some pictures from a couple of 3rd grade classes:

Some pictures from a couple of 4th and 5th grade classes:

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. It's amazing how much fun you can have with children with a glider kit and some cardstock paper.

Have fun!