Challenge: Creating an aviation curriculum that excites and challenges students in engineering electives.
Solution: Using POWERUP Toys to teach aerodynamics and more.
Introduction: TVT Community Day School is a college preparatory school rooted in Jewish values located in Irvine, California. It’s Innovation@TVT (I@TVT) innovation program helps prepare students for the ongoing challenges of the 21st Century. It integrates programs in engineering, science, mathematics, and film with TVT’s core curriculum. One of the elective courses students can take starting in middle school (grades 6-8) is pre-engineering. Once students get to upper school (grades 9-12) they can take three levels of engineering and science research. Diallo Wallace, the department chair for science and engineering and formerly in the Navy, is creating EITs – engineers in training. As part of that, he wanted to teach students about aviation and aeronautics. Aeronautical engineering and aviation science gives students the opportunity to learn about multiple scientific concepts. As he began planning how he was going to teach these subjects, he faced a dilemma because of the cost and complexity of the subject matter.
Determining the best classroom tool
Aviation by its nature is an expensive subject. On the one hand creating and flying paper airplanes is inexpensive, but to really help students learn the various concepts needed for aeronautical engineering, much more complex options needed to be available. To determine the best tool for his needs, Wallace tested out a bunch of different products. He found it was difficult to find a product that was both affordable and complex enough to teach the subject. When he came across POWERUP Toys, he was initially skeptical and believed the STEM kits were too good to be true. It was important for him to test it out himself before introducing it to his students to make sure it was the perfect fit. After he tested the products out himself, he was then able to envision how the kits would be used for teaching several math and science lessons.
Using POWERUP Toys in the classroom
It is Wallace’s goal to get sixth graders in the pre-engineering elective both mathematically and analytically prepared for the following engineering course. POWERUP Toys helps him teach the fundamentals. The POWERUP 2.0 electric paper airplane works as a tool to assist students as they begin to visualize equations. They learn about surface area, density, altitude, humidity and other factors that go into flight. Students are not only strengthening their STEM skills when they use POWERUP Toys STEM kits, they get a chance to learn about meteorology, chemistry, and physics as they look at the environment their planes will fly in. During Wallace’s lesson, they also get the chance to practice their communication skills. They have the opportunity to work in teams when constructing their plane designs and to practice their presentation skills when they present their final products.
Once students are able to master the 2.0, they then move on to the POWERUP 3.0 smartphone controlled airplane. Some students even move up to the POWERUP DART app controlled airplane and POWERUP FPV video paper airplane after meeting all of the requirements Wallace set for the lessons with the 2.0 and 3.0. By the time students are sophomores, they are applying electrical concepts to their aircraft and by their junior year they are applying electrical mechanical concepts to their designs. As students watch their aircraft crash or fly, they learn ways to analyze their design and determine what needs to be fixed or improved. Students typically log a total of five hours of flight time throughout the school year. Using POWERUP Toys has inspired one student to change her career path and she completely rearranged her schedule so she could continue to take engineering electives. “It has been great to have parents come to me and say how their child has completely shocked them by wanting to become an engineer,” Wallace explained. “It’s great to hear the excitement I see in my students is reaching beyond the classroom.”
Viewing POWERUP Toys as an educational research tool
Although toy is in the company’s name, there is a lot more to the powered paper airplanes. Wallace’s class has been able to collect data on flights over the past year. The opportunity to gather this data has inspired Wallace to develop a curriculum involving drones. Last year, Wallace’s students succeeded in both the flying and knowledge tests and took first place in aviation at the Orange County Science Olympiad. Since Wallace incorporated aviation into the engineering classes, students have had endless opportunities to learn and experience flight.