There are few activities that are generally forbidden during the school day: rough housing in the hallway, screaming for no good reason, spinning wooden rulers on sharpened pencils, slamming locker doors, and making and launching paper airplanes. Me, I have a problem with velcro, but that’s another story. For the past two weeks middle school students had the opportunity to make a paper airplanes WITH the permission of their tech teacher – me. Inasmuch as this seems like a lot of playing and goofing off, students had and opportunity to explore the following concepts and develop specific skills:
- Follow instructions
- Be critical of instructions
- Understand what makes a good airplane – weight, balance, symmetry, increased area to allow for air to affect flight,
- Think about what branch of engineering has to do with making airplanes, gliders, jets, etc.
- Research SR virtual resources to help design and make a better airplane
- Write critically, to write instructions for their paper airplane
- Make a paper airplane from another student’s instructions
With the maker space the engineering office and the hallway the wind tunnel, our girls took their task seriously and created a myriad of designs, some effective, others not so much. We tried to reduce the waste of paper by using some paper from the paper bins of teacher workrooms, as well as cut in half pieces of paper for initial designs. Overall, the girls were sensitive to waste and kept it to a minimum.
Although we’re not done with this activity, it has been a respite from standardized testing, start-stop weeks due to snow, late openings, and last minute quizzes and assessments due to the end of the quarter. Yes, the girls are learning and researching and making things and failing and trying again, but they’re having fun doing so!