Retrospective of STEM Activities

Students in the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering have completed about half the school year, and as 2017 ends, here are some of the accomplishments and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities of these students so far this school year:

  • The 7th graders have achieved basic proficiency in science inquiry, engineering design, and researching and presenting topics, while the 8th graders have achieved advanced proficiency in these areas.
  • Here are the major engineering design projects the students have done so far:
    • 7th grade:
      • Rube Goldberg project – design and build a Rube Goldberg machine that demonstrates several simple machines.
      • Glider challenge – design, build, and fly a hand launched glider that flies the farthest.
      • Propeller challenge – design, 3D print, and fly an improved propeller to make a Guillow rubber band powered airplane fly the farthest.
      • Aerospace board game project – design, build, and play a board game that teaches and tests players in their aerospace knowledge.
    • 8th grade:
      • Model rocket challenge – design, build, and launch a model rocket that climbs the fastest and highest.
      • Re-engine/Re-imagine challenge – design and present a plan to re-engine a fleet of airliners with Pratt&Whitney geared turbofan engines, and a plan to re-imagine the use of the old jet engines — both plans were presented to and judged by Mr. Dias, school principal, in a business presentation format.
      • Electric cargo airplane challenge – based on a high school/college challenge sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) – design, build, and fly a model airplane powered by two 6-volt motors to lift the highest possible amount of cargo weight (in pennies).
      • Amusement park challenge – design and present an amusement park ride that demonstrates the principles of circular motion and accounts for centripetal acceleration.
      • Aerospace arcade game – design, build, and play an aerospace themed arcade game that teaches and tests knowledge of aerospace and physical science.
  • Academy students have taken three major field trips:
  • The academy has hosted a series of speakers and mentors:
    • Two computer science professionals, Ryan Darge and Emily Failla, have given a presentation on cyber security to all students and mentored our CyberPatriot teams.
    • Engineering professionals from GKN Aerospace and PCX Aerostructures have visited several times to mentor students in engineering projects, and Mr. Bruce Fiedorowicz of GKN gave a presentation on GKN and the aerospace industry.
    • UCONN Engineering Ambassadors, undergraduate students at UCONN who major in engineering and do outreach to middle and high schools, came and spoke to our students and did workshops with them.
    • UCONN students in AIAA came and mentored students in engineering projects and spoke about the engineering program, especially in aerospace.
    • Teenage inventor and entrepreneur, Ayana Klein of 3Dux/Design, gave a Skype presentation to our students about how she started her company.
    • Several former academy students have visited to share their experiences at Newington High School.
  • Our two CyberPatriot teams have completed two rounds of the competition and are currently #2 and #3 out of eight active middle school teams in Connecticut.

This is not a complete list, but it shows the depth and breadth of experiences our students have gotten so far. Ms. Garavel and I look forward to a productive spring semester with these students!

Here is a photo collage from the past semester:

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Mentoring is Key to a Good STEM Program

At the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, the 8th graders just finished the second part of a three-part STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) competition called the Connecticut Aerospace Engineering Challenge. The competition has the students take on the role of an engineering team working for an airline company that is re-engining its fleet with new Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines. The first part of the competition required the students to research the airline’s aircraft and these new engines, then pick the appropriate models of new engines for the aircraft. The second part of the competition has the students respond to a CEO inquiry whether the old jet engines could be recycled as wind turbines or hydroelectric turbines. The students could do a lab experiment, a simulation, and/or a thought experiment to conduct this feasibility study. Now for the average 8th grader, this would be a tall task! My students are an exceptional group, but they needed help to get some perspective on how to approach this problem. That’s where mentors are invaluable. We have forged a partnership with two aerospace firms in our town, GKN Aerospace and PCX Aerostructures. Both companies have provided mentors to help the students in this competition. The students are in four teams, and two mentors from GKN and two from PCX come in about once per month to guide the students and give them feedback. Today the teams all presented their final plans to the mentors, and they got outstanding feedback. Additionally, GKN Aerospace’s team, led by Mr. Bruce Fiedorowicz, Director of Sales, gave our academy a large model of a GeeBee air racer, plus two classic air racing posters. Here are photos:

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Bruce Fiedorowicz, GKN Aerospace, Mentors Team One
Chris Aldrich, PCX Aerostructures, Mentors Team Two
Gerry Zimmerman, PCX Aerostructures, Mentors Team Three
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Tiedah Evans, GKN Aerospace, Mentors Team Four

 

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GKN Aerospace Donates Model and Posters to Academy