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WOW! in the Classroom

Forces of Flight - Glider Testing

This lesson gives students some background information on the Wright Brothers and shows a comparison between gliders and airplanes. Students will also learn about wing design and the importance of weight and balance. The main focus will be understanding the Four Forces of Flight – Lift, Thrust, Drag and Weight.
(Most appropriate for grade levels 5-10.)

NOTE: If requesting both of our Flight lesson (this one and Flight – Testing Weight and Balance) this one should be scheduled first.

Lesson Time: 45-60 minutes

Student Activity: This activity uses our balsa wood gliders so students can experiment with the forces of flight, and an airplane’s movements while in the air.  By adding mass or adjusting wing shape, students can change the variables and hopefully get their glider to fly farther, and stay in the air longer.

Group work: Students will test their own glider, but will work in groups of 3-4 students to brainstorm and discuss possible changes to make, as well as helping each other measure and time their flights. In order to save time, teachers are asked to create the groups before our Wizard arrives.

Standards:
4.PS.2: Energy can be transferred from one location to another or can be transformed from one form to another.
5.PS.1:The amount of change in movement of an object is based on the mass of the object and the amount of force exerted.

6.PS.3:There are two categories of energy: kinetic and potential.
6.PS.4: An object’s motion can be described by its speed and the direction in which it is moving.
7.PS.3: Energy can be transformed or transferred but is never lost.

7.PS.4: Energy can be transferred through a variety of ways.
8.PS.2: Forces can act to change the motion of objects.

HS:
P.F.1: Newton’s laws applied to complex problems.

P.F.5: Air resistance and drag.
PS.FM.2: Forces • Force diagrams • Types of forces (gravity, friction, normal, tension) • Field model for forces at a distance .
PS.FM.3: Dynamics (how forces affect motion) • Objects at rest • Objects moving with constant velocity • Accelerating objects
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