5th and 6th graders, ages 10-12, were invited to enroll in Flight University, a Project Next Generation (PNG) grant program at the Sparta Public Library. Throughout the semester long program (approximately 16 weeks) participants are given learning opportunities in field related to flight including: the designing/building of planes, circuitry, meteorology, and astronomy.
Session 1: February 5, 2015
13 ‘Flight Trainees’ came out and were introduced to our first activity this semester: circuitry. After a brief introduction to circuitry and the snap circuit sets we’ll be using throughout this semester, the participants build their own circuits including fans, flying saucers, and sirens.
Session 2: February 12, 2015
13 ‘Flight Trainees’ continued to experiment with circuitry. All participants were able to build a circuit of their own choosing. Many chose the water alarm.
Session 3: February 19, 2015
Due to the snow day, only 9 participants made it to Flight University for session 3. Those that did make it were quite busy as they began the process of building clothespin motor-powered gliders. During this session, specifically, the balsa wood was measured, cut, and sanded by the participants.
Session 4: February 26, 2015
The twelve ‘flight trainees’ who made it continued to work on their gliders today after a brief lesson in the principles of flight and flying machines. Several videos were shown which illustrated these concepts and how they apply to the gliders that participants are currently working on. Once the participants were all settled they finished the sanding work and moved onto the process of assembling/gluing the glider frame. After completing this, many participants were able explore the glider design software, experimenting with the different properties of aircraft that make it viable for flight.
Session 5: March 5, 2015
Cancelled Due to Inclement Weather & Early Library Closure
Session 6: March 12, 2015
Our 13 trainees worked diligently on their gliders and nearly all were completed. After watching Jeff’s prototype fly on the Kelvin Power Pole they are all very excited to try theirs out at the next session.
Session 7: March 19, 2015
What a fun afternoon! Participants were able to finish their motor-propelled gliders and the vast majority were able to try them out on the power pole. Despite a few crashes, the planes held up remarkably well and flew just fine once some aspects of each glider were adjusted.
Session 8: March 26, 2015
On Thursday, March 26 the flight crew took their first field trip: a visit to the helipad at Sparta Airport. While there participants were given an introduction to the helicopter and the basics/mechanics of helicopter flight. The trainees were also given ample time to explore the helicopter and ask lots of questions of the pilot. Additionally, the paramedic and nurse briefly presented on their jobs with the flight crew.
Session 9: April 2, 2015
April 2nd, our Flight University trainees took their second field trip: to Hunter Field. Upon arrival, participants were given a brief history of the airport by the airport manager/pilot, as well as information on possible careers in aeronautics, and then taken out to the hangar. In the hanger, participants were instructed on the basics of flight and airplane composition. Each participant was able to climb into an airplane and learn firsthand about the controls (yoke, floor pedals, etc.). Additional planes were shown and discussed. In total, 9 planes were introduced. A very enlightening question/answer session was at the end of the meeting.
Session 10: April 9, 2015
More test flights during today’s session. Quite a lot of life experience gained as far as picking yourself up and dusting yourself off after faltering 🙂
The trainees did a great job making adjustments and fixing parts as needed.
Session 11: April 16, 2015
6 Flight University trainees made it to the session and were able to accomplish a lot. After snacks, they watched three Youtube videos to introduce participants to the activity of the day: building a hovercraft. Videos included demonstration of procedures we would be using that day as well as an explanation for the mechanics and science behind hovercrafts. After watching the videos, the hovercraft project was started and completed (for the most part). Participants were responsible for: sanding the edge of the board to prevent the creation of holes, attaching and securing the shower curtain with staples and duct tape, decorating the top of the craft, and using screws to attach bottom plate.
Session 12: April 23, 2015
12 participants met at the community building in the Sparta City Park to try out the hovercraft which had been assembled last week. All participants were able to try it out successfully and several participants gained a lot of hands on experience in troubleshooting (figuring out the best way to prevent the air blower from coming off, most effective way to duct tape the edges, etc.)
Session 13: May 2, 2015
Flight University had a special Saturday meeting on May 2, 2015 in order to participate in the Young Eagle’s Fly-In. During the event, Flight University trainees were taught how to conduct a basic pre-flight inspection and then taken up in the air for approximately 30 minutes.
PNG is an initiative started by Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White. The grant program is designed to mentor pre-teens, empower them with life skills, and introduce students to new technology. Funding for the project was awarded by the Illinois State Library, a Department of the Office of the Secretary of State, Jesse White, using funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).