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.

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Author: Bryan Holmes, Physics & Math Teacher, STEM Competition Mentor

Starting at Thomaston High School in Thomaston, Connecticut, in fall of 2018.

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