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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Science Lesson – Magic School Bus - Flight

Day 1 – Air Foils and Lift

Using Magic School Bus Episode # - Flight, I taught the K- 2nd graders about lift and air foils. I tied it into the weather lessons by reviewing the facts about updrafts and wind. Then I reminded them of our discussion about updrafts from hot spots helping raptors like turkey vultures, common in our area, get up into the stronger wind currents higher in the sky. That is why they circle. Then I equated wind discussed in the weather lessons with the moving air needed and the updrafts from hot air up drafts with the lift needed for flight.

We backed up to discuss what air was, emphasizing that air takes up space. I demonstrated this with a noise maker that moved air and by having a student blow up a balloon. (Of course I let every student get at least one touch on the balloon while we batted it around a little, not hard with only 9 students.)

Once the kids grasped the concept that air took up space and could be used like water to float, I asked kids to describe their personally experiences with flight. Since only one had any airplane experience, I reminded them of having been thrown in the air or air planed around. (Younger grades still remember these experiences, but they fixed on the analogy to swimming and were side tracked with their more recent memories of learning to swim. I'll have to remember that in the future.)

After watching some of the video I stopped after Miss Frizzle spoke about lift. I used a fan to show the effect of moving air on streamers tied to the grate, a balloon and pin wheels from two angles. I drew their attention to the shapes of the curves in the pinwheel blades and its ability to catch air. I had them wave a piece of paper around by one end. Then I had them wave it again while holding it by two catercorner ends pinched together to form a curve. I asked them which one caught the air better.

Then we made paper rotor and flew them. 

For homework they made a paper plane and/or a straw and paper plane. There was optional homework of making a pin wheel, making a parachute guy, making a wind chime, making a sail boat and/or making and flying a kite. (One student made and flew a kite and made and sailed a sail boat with her older brother.)

Day 2 – Steering in Flight

We reviewed the facts that flight needs moving air and that a curved shape helps to catch the air. I showed them a large flight feather from a duck and we discussed the shape. I passed out small flight feathers from song birds. (I gave them appropriate warnings about feathers needing to be cleaned with hot soapy water.) We looked to see that all the feathers had a curve to them to help birds catch air and waves them around.

Before watching the video, we named the flying objects we had seen so far. I stopped after the bubbles showed the air foil on the plane wings clearly.

We discussed air foils in detail then I gave them diagrams of an air plane and a bird. We identified and colored the related parts. (I forgot how impulsive younger kids are, so several had begun coloring the pictures randomly before they were all passed out, even though I had causally said not to color these in. I'll have to remember to be more emphatic about that in the future.)

Color Code
Power source = green
Stopping agent = red
Steering agent = orange/yellow
Air foil = blue arrows showing the movement of the air currents

We finished the video then had a paper/straw plane contest. (After we quick made planes for those who failed to do the homework or forgot it at home.) I lined them all up on one side of the room and challenged them to find the plane that flew the furthest, the highest, the one that stayed in the air the longest and the one that did the fanciest tricks. It ended up being just a mad air plane free for all. But since nobody got an air plane to the eye and they all had fun, it worked.

What fun ways have you taught flight to kids?

I am fascinated by wings and flight. Do you find these subjects amazing too?

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