Glider Wings: The Science of Flight in Elementary School

Glider Wings: The Science of Flight in Elementary School

  • News
  • Early Childhood, Elementary School

What makes a better glider? Students in grade 5 were challenged to think like scientists.

Watch this video to see how their experiments rose to the occasion. Mr. Patrick Frape asked students to design better wings for a cardboard glider.

Beginning with sets of identical laser-cut and 3D-printed parts, students were invited to assemble, test, and improve their gliders’ efficiency. “The Idea Lab makes this kind of learning experience possible,” said Mr. Frape. “It was crucial that students have identical models to work with, and the precision of laser cutting meant that each glider was exactly the same. We were able to create all the parts we needed.”

Following the scientific method, students only changed one variable – the shape of the glider’s wing.

The students deepened their understanding of a “Think – Make – Test” design cycle while they worked like scientists, gathering and documenting data, reflecting, modifying their designs, reaching conclusions, and having a lot of fun in the process.

The Idea Lab

The Idea Lab is a technology and design focused maker space integrated into the Learning Innovation Hub. The Idea Lab supports students’ curiosity, extending hands-on learning with both traditional and contemporary tools. Learners can explore 3D printing, laser cutting, computational embroidery, robotics, and more, within a state-of-the-art, purpose-built space.

Technology and Innovation coaches work with students and teachers to help develop their ideas and skills, providing advice, instruction, and pedagogical support. In the Idea Lab, students and teachers can learn with and from each other as they make, tinker, prototype, test, reflect, design, and share their creations and discoveries.

The Idea Lab benefits from state-the-art equipment, including: 

  • Two 3D-printers
  • Two laser cutters
  • Three sewing machines
  • A programmable embroidery machine
  • A plotter cutter
  • A drill press
  • A Dremel jigsaw
  • A rotary tool
  • Multiple soldering irons, multimeters, cordless drills, vise table clamps, cutting mats, safety goggles, and a wide variety of hand tools.