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The Forces of Flight Department explains and demonstrates the four forces of flight-- lift, drag, thrust and weight--and how these forces interact when a plane flies. Within each force explanation, students interact by answering questions and participating in suggested hands-on activities relating to that force. At the end of the lesson, students participate in two interactive activities. In the first, students learn what a wind tunnel is and how it works. They are then able to place different planes and objects in the wind tunnel and see the accompanying lift and drag values created by the simulated flight. In the second activity, students interpret a bar graph depicting the amount of each force in relation to each other and choose the correct plane movement (going up, going down, level flight, etc.) represented by those forces.
This purpose of this outline is to help you navigate to specific parts of the lesson without having to go through every page. The section titles link to the first pages of that section, and the numbers in parentheses refer to the page number where that section starts.
At the end of this lesson, students will:
45-70 minutes for entire activity, depending on reading level of students in group.
Standard 1: Mathematics as Problem Solving
- Use problem solving approaches to investigate and understand mathematical content.
- Verify and interpret given results and generalize solutions and strategies to a new problem.
Standard 2: Mathematics as Communication
- Interpret and evaluate mathematical ideas presented in written and visual forms.
- Discuss mathematical ideas and make convincing arguments.
Standard 3: Mathematics as Reasoning
- Understand and apply reasoning with graphs.
- Make and evaluate mathematical arguments.
Standard 4: Mathematical Connections
- Explore problems and describe results using graphical, physical and verbal math models.
- Apply mathematics to solve problems in science.
- Recognize the value of math in an applied technical situation
Standard 5: Number and Number Relationships
- Recognize numerical relationships represented in two dimensions graphs.
Standard 8: Patterns and Functions
- Describe and represent relationships with graphs and rules.
- Analyze functional relationships to explain how a change in one quantity results in a change in another.
Standard 9: Algebra
- Represent situations and number patterns with graphs, verbal rules and explore the interrelationships of these representations.
- Analyze graphs to identify relationships.
Standard 10: Statistics
- Read and interpret graphs.
Vocabulary words are linked to the activity pages on which they're defined.
For the Paper Blowing Activity:
For the Paper Dropping Activity:
This lesson can be completed individually but will move faster and be more fun if two or more people work together. The lesson can be done in under an hour if the students are good readers. There are several good breaking places in this lesson--after either of the four forces descriptions or at the beginning of the ending activities.
Pair up students if someone is unable to hold or manipulate objects. Use a blow drier hooked up to a switch if a student is unable to sustain a blow in the hands-on activity for lift. The crumpled/flat paper hands-on activity for drag can be adapted by assisting the individual to push items off their wheelchair tray or a table.
1. Use paper airplanes of different sizes, different weights and with "tails" attached (provides increased drag) to demonstrate and experiment with the four forces covered in this lesson.
2. Have students come up with examples outside of aeronautics where lift, drag, thrust or weight are involved.
Do you have ideas for other activities to use with this activity? Send your suggestions to us at email@example.com.
All the pages maintain a consistent grid of 6 buttons along the bottom of the page, which should be accessible through a ClickIt! overlay for IntelliKeys. For more information on using assistive technology, please refer to the document "Making PlaneMath Accessible" on the main PlaneMath parent/teacher page.
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