This past week at the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering at John Wallace Middle School, the students worked on a culminating project to design, build, and test model gliders. This project integrated many aspects of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). First, the students studied basic aerodynamics, aerodynamic stability, and the flight testing process, including flying flight test profiles on the academy flight simulators. This academic work followed a focus on the forces of flight and a lab focusing on airplane design factors that affect lift and drag. Next, the students used NASA’s Engineering Design Process, which they used several times already, to research and brainstorm various glider designs. After that, students used the academy’s Makerspace to build their designs. Each crew (group of 4 or 5 students) selected appropriate materials, cut, sanded, glued, and duct taped balsa wood, styrofoam, and other materials to create a prototype glider. Here are photos of some of the crews at work:
For flight testing, the students followed the Scientific Method to see how their glider flew over several trials, then changed one variable at a time to improve performance. Finally, they had a final flight test challenge to see which crew’s glider flew the farthest, demonstrating the best lift to drag ratio. Here is each crew with their glider, and some photos of their flight testing:
After the challenge, the class discussed the project and analyzed each glider’s performance to determine what improvements could have been made. Throughout the project, students documented each step and each day’s activities in their engineering notebooks, a type of STEM journal, including a full lab report on flight testing. The next project will be a logical follow on to this one, as students will design, build, and test a powered model airplane. First, however, they will study propulsion systems and types and transfers of energy over the next couple weeks.
The students of the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering at John Wallace Middle School took their first field trip today to Bradley Airport, Connecticut. They visited the New England Air Museum and the Connecticut Air National Guard’s 103rd Airlift Wing. Before the trip, the students studied the websites of both locations. Organized into 4-person crews, they picked goals for learning and questions to ask that the entire crew agreed on. Once at the destinations, the students worked together to find the answers to their crew’s goals and questions. Tomorrow, they will get a quiz based entirely on their goals and questions. In other words, the students chose what they wanted to learn on this trip, then were held accountable to actually learn it. The goals and questions they came up with were shared before the trip with the entire class, and they were all appropriate and pertinent to our learning objectives. Watching them today, I was proud of their inquisitiveness and diligence to understand what they saw. Both the museum staff and the Guard personnel were outstanding hosts. With the exception of a fender bender we suffered at the start of the trip, the day went very well. The following photos show some of what we did.
The Academy of Aerospace and Engineering at John Wallace Middle School moved into its new facility this week. After years of planning and budgeting, Newington Public Schools has constructed a world-class science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) wing for the school that opened on Monday, October 5th. The Academy students, who had been in a temporary science room for the first several weeks of school, were elated to move into a spacious, new suite of rooms. The following photos show the students working on lessons over the past week. In the first several photos, they are following a NASA engineering design process to design and build Rube Goldberg machines. This project is the culmination of their jointly studying simple machines and an aerospace application of simple machines, airplane flight controls. The Rube Goldberg machines they build will use simple machines and have the theme of airplane flight controls. In the last two photos, students are seeing firsthand how secondary flight controls work and how they affect flight. This integrated approach to learning is the fundamental strategy for the Academy.