Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Incredible Adventures: Flight School

Take Flight! Grades K-6. We’ll hear the amazing stories of some early aviators -- including Elinor Smith’s daring flight under the bridges of New York City, then make our own paper airplanes and see how far they soar!

This is a school aged program introducing children to some early flyers along with techniques for building some simple paper airplanes.  It could be done as a one hour program one day or be stretched out into a multi-session program with one book read each meeting and progressively more difficult airplanes made and tested.  It is also a perfect school-aged for the 2014 Summer Reading Theme “Fizz, Boom, Read.”

When when children arrive: Have books on early flyers (biographies), airplanes (629.13), and paper airplanes (745.592) available for browsing.  A bibliography on some overlooked female flyers is here: http://nobodyownsthesky.wordpress.com/bibliography/

Begin with Bernoulli Principle experiment:
Depending on the ages and interest of those attending, read 1-3 books, interspersing books with building and test-flying paper airplanes (We had kids sit on rug for reading then had them build planes in the same location using cardboards for flat surfaces.  This way we easily modeled how to build the planes and saw who needed help.)

Suggested books to read:
  • The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont – Victoria Griffith (introduces this little-known inventor famous for his personal flying dirigible and considered by some the inventor of the first powered airplane that took off by itself (Wright Bros. required a rail system and wind to get it off the ground.))
  • Flight – Robert Burleigh (blow-by-blow account of Lindbergh’s solo non-stop flight)
  • Soar Elinor! – Tami Lewis Brown (tells the story of Elinor Smith and her extraordinary flight under the four bridges of NYC) Could also just read one book and then make and race planes. Kids line up to see which goes the farthest, highest, etc. No need for prizes, the race part just gives everyone a chance to stand and fly their planes.

Paper Airplanes:
Classic paper airplane: http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/paper/airplanes.html

Flying Saucer airplane: http://www.cbc4kids.cbc.ca/general/the-lab/flights-of-fancy/current/default.html (This site is no longer working, but the plane is really cool and quite simple.   Cut an 8.5x11 piece of paper in half so you have a 4.25x11 piece.  Fold  the 11” edge over about 1cm., then fold that edge over again and again for a total of 5 folds (you should have a thick folded side and about 2-3 inches of unfolded paper left.)  Bring the two ends together with the folded part facing inside. Lap the ends and tape together.  To fly, hold in your hand like a “C” and throw with a twisting motion.)  Here are scans from the original site – I have a request in for permission, but haven’t heard back yet. 


Here’s another interesting airplane from the same site that I have found nowhere else:

Assorted other designs (with video instructions)


Smithsonian Maker Lab p. 44ff. – Dashing Dart, Super Stunt, Graceful Glider

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