Academy 8th Graders Doing Culminating STEM Activities

With about a month of school left, Ms. Garavel and I have been giving the 8th grade students in the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering various culminating activities. These students have been in the academy for two years, and they are now very capable of rigorous, thoughtful work that integrates the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts and skills they have learned. In science, the students are wrapping up the last unit on earth science that focused on astronomy, especially of the Solar System. In math, most 8th graders will finish their last unit in the next week or two, then those taking high school-level classes, such as Algebra or Geometry, will take a final exam on June 14th. In the Principles of Aerospace Science Class, students are integrating these science and math concepts and skills in a unit on air navigation. Students learn first how to navigate by landmarks using pilotage, then using speed and distance and time using deductive or “dead” reckoning, then learn about celestial and radio navigation as ways to provide a fix, and finally they see how modern navigation systems have automated most of these skills. Here are photos of the students doing a dead reckoning lesson on the flight simulator:

Another culminating activity that the 8th graders are doing is to code and fly small indoor drones called Codrones by Robolink. Students have learned how to code an Arduino device that controls the Codrone, and now they are preparing to do a challenge where they will program the Codrone to fly a specific course. The course is laid out to simulate a rescue mission where the Codrone will deliver emergency medical supplies to a stranded hiker. All of the culminating activities the students do will help strengthen their learning over the past two years.

Academy Students Celebrate Completion of Sundial Project

Today students at the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering celebrated the completion of a sundial project started by last year’s academy class of 2017. The 8th graders last year got an assignment to design a sundial that could be a monument outside the academy to their class, the first group of students to complete the academy two-year program. The assignment integrated their studies of astronomy and the Solar System in 8th grade science, their study of circles in geometry, and their study of air navigation and celestial navigation in aerospace science. All six student crews (groups of four to five students) designed a sundial, then they presented their designs along with a scale model to Mr. Dias, Assistant Principal at that time. He chose the winning design. Then the winning crew had to present the design and a full-scale model to Dr. Collins, Superintendent, who approved the construction of the sundial. The district staff then helped us find an appropriate contractor for the sundial’s pavers, the Homer C. Godfrey Company of Bridgeport, and a contractor to install them this spring, Stonehedge Landscaping of Newington. Today we did a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate the opening of the sundial, almost a full year after the students initially designed it. The ribbon cutters were the original crew of student designers: Richard Greczkowski, Alek Jorge, Sydney Morgenthau, and Olivia Mullings. See my post from last year describing this project. After the ribbon cutting, they all said a few words expressing their amazement and pleasure at how well the sundial turned out.

Here are photos of today’s ribbon cutting, as well as a series of photos taken each hour on the hour to show the sundial’s almost perfect accuracy.