Challenge: Teaching science through aviation as a way to prepare students for careers
Solution: Using tools like POWERUP Toys and Flite Test curriculum to give students hands-on
Crestview High School, located in Ashland, Ohio, works to provide an educational program that will
prepare students to further their formal education beyond high school. Dwight Souder, a science
teacher at the school, used students’ interest in jobs at the town’s local airport and Air National Guard
base to help drive his lesson planning.
In Souder’s RC Aeronautics STEAM class, he starts the school year by going over the basics of flight and
the terminology students need to know. As students start learning the terminology, they are also getting
hands on practice in cutting out gliders from foam board. As students build and fly their planes, they
have to determine what is causing a plane to fly poorly and what adjustments they need to make for
better flight. Once students become comfortable with the basics of flight, they then have the
opportunity to create and test additional designs and concepts.
Souder started using Flite Test’s STEM curriculum as a guide for creating RC foam planes in his class. He
came across a Flite Test episode on YouTube that featured POWERUP Toys and decided to test it out.
Souder purchased kits of the POWERUP 3.0, POWERUP DART, and POWERUP XFPV for his students.
The POWERUP Toys STEM kits have allowed students to quickly create and test prototypes for various
designs. With the POWERUP motors, they are able to easily create smaller scaled designs and test them
out before creating a full size build. “In less than a week, my students have tried canard style wings,
forward swept wings, a ‘bow tie’ looking wing design, a hang glider style plane, and even a Star Wars TIE
fighter,” Souder said. “The POWERUPs have created some extra excitement in the class and allowed a
faster turnaround when going from prototype to full scale.”
The POWERUP Toys STEM kits have been helpful to Souder not just to teach aeronautics, they have also
served as an aid when teaching other subjects too. Souder uses the STEM kits to teach different
equations and concepts in his physics classes. His students get a better understanding of acceleration
and force and how to adjust these equations for each flight. They learn how to track and analyze flights
and what needs to be done to improve each flight. The STEM kits give students a hands-on opportunity
to learn various concepts in physics.
One thing that stood out to Souder was the durability of the products. “I have a classroom full of
teenagers itching to try them out and constantly crashing them while testing their ideas,” Souder said.
“They’ve run into walls and have fallen great distances onto solid floors and have been holding up
wonderfully.” The durability of the POWERUP Toy STEM kits helps students become much more
comfortable with failure. When a plane they design crashes and they don’t have to worry about
breaking parts of the kit, they are eager to adjust their design and try again.
First year students in the RC Aeronautics STEAM class work together as they are introduced to aviation.
It makes the learning process easier for them when they are able to work together and learn from each
other. Students find ways to work together on brainstorming, designing, and flying their craft. It has
created an encouraging environment for students to grow and test their unique ideas. After more than
two years of hard work and collaboration, one group of students even accomplished turning a design
that looked like it shouldn’t be able to fly at all into a plane that successfully flew.
Souder has been able to witness many of his students going into careers in aviation, and he invites
former students back to the classroom to share about the fields they chose as careers. One of the guest
speakers included a former student that now works in the pipeline industry and uses drones to do the
inspections of pipelines. Another guest speaker, who actually wasn’t a student, but heard about what
Souder was doing in his classroom, came in to share about his career. He was a test pilot in the Air Force
and is now a life flight pilot for a local hospital. “It is great to have experts present and get students
excited about possible career options in aviation,” Souder said. “With tools like Flite Test and POWERUP
Toys, future aviators are able to get a head start on their career path.”