We have been studying science topics on flight, air, and aerodynamics. These are interesting and engaging topics, but can be a little lofty for the kids to truly understand. The challenge we faced was to find a way to encapsulate all that we had learned and make it fun and engaging. We decided to take a closer look at some of the planes from the past, present and future and think about their ‘Utopic Flights’.
What had these planes been built to do? How had they been modified to fully meet the needs of these utopic flights? We researched. We discussed. We diagrammed, hummed and hawed. We decided to use the runways from the Calgary International Airport to root our work. Students were asked to cluster their planes based on what runways their planes would need to use to become airborne. We wrote stories on our utopic flights and were highly engaged. Yet, it was tough to ascertain if they truly had grasped onto the outcomes we had established together when we started. That is, until the work was put up onto the wall.
Student: “Mrs. Simmons, are you organizing those planes based on what runway they would need?”
Mrs. Simmons: “Yes…why? Did I do something wrong?”
Student: “Oh yeah, if you’re organizing them based on the flight ceiling for the aircraft and the length of runway the planes would need to overcome the drag and gravity being placed on them you have a bunch of them wrong.”
We then had the greatest conversation where the kids outlined exactly where their planes should be located and why. They were clear, articulate and completely knew their stuff. They could speak to how their planes were modified and even explain how their planes fit on a timeline and how each and every plane was a reflection of the world at that time. Sometimes the greatest teaching moments happen when we’re doing something wrong. Please feel free to ‘Fail Forward’ with us!