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:

Making STEM Connections on Field Trips

Students from the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering went on a field trip today to the New England Air Museum. Despite a delayed opening at school due to snow, we were able to visit the museum and see firsthand some of the aircraft and propulsion systems the students have been studying. The students were also tasked to pick an area of interest and to investigate it at the museum, then write a short summary of what they learned. All of these activities helped students make connections to the science, technology, engineering, and even math (STEM) they have been studying in the classroom. They also got to have some fun, such as dressing up in astronaut suits and going on a scavenger hunt. Here are photos from today’s trip:

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First Field Trip for Academy Students – Aerospace All Day

Students in C-130 cockpit
Students in C-130 cockpit

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.

Students learn about spacesuits
Students learn about spacesuits
Walking out to a C-130
Walking out to a C-130
C-130 aircrew briefs students
C-130 aircrew briefs students
In the cockpit 2
Students try out the C-130 aircrew seats
Students on flightline
Walking off the flight line
Fender bender causes delay
Fender bender causes delay