by Cori Hilsgen
Robin Kremer’s All Saints Academy third-grade students have been busy studying the science of flight by designing and testing gliders.
Students worked on the gliders through a series of five lessons, some of the lessons divided into several days.
Kremer said it took about three weeks to complete the project.
It was part of Project Lead the Way which is a STEM program ASA has been using this year. Through PLTW, kindergarten through high-school students learn through an activity-based, project-based and problem-based curriculum. They experience applying what they know, identifying problems, finding unique solutions and leading their own learning.
Materials used are provided through the PLTW program.
Students explored various wing styles and horizontal stabilizers. Initially, they used the Aero App and were able to virtually fly gliders using different parts.
After exploring the parts, students designed their gliders with parts they believed would fly the best.
Students built the exact gliders which they had designed and tested them using a launch pad made with a three-ring binder and rubber bands.
Kremer said they practiced launching their gliders on the cafeteria tables, measured the distance their gliders flew and recorded the data onto a chart.
“I learned if you put paperclips on the front it flies better,” Spencer Scholz said. “I liked the whole project.”
“I learned about the four forces of flight,” Livi Kremer said. “The body of the glider is called a fuselage. My favorite part was launching the gliders.”
“I learned if you pull back really far, the glider will go really far when you launch it,” Kylie Smith said. “My favorite part was building the gliders.”
“I learned how the four forces of flight help airplanes fly,” Sophia Botz said. “My favorite part of the project was testing what made the gliders fly better and recording it.”
Each glider performed three test flights. Students made modifications on the gliders to see if they could get them to fly greater distances. One of the modifications used included adding weight with paperclips to various parts of the glider.
“I expected students to make at least three modifications,” Kremer said, “but most students explored more.”
Students discovered when they added more weight on the tip of the glider, it went farther.
“They determined that putting more weight in this position helped create more thrust,” Kremer said. “When the weight was put in the back it created more drag.”
Kremer said students learned motion is created when forces are unbalanced and also learned about the forces of flight such as thrust, drag, weight/gravity and lift.
“The third-graders were motivated and engaged during the hands-on project,” Kremer said. “There were able to apply the step-by-step design process to solve a problem.”