Nature of Flight
The lesson will focus on how the principles of flight are demonstrated in nature and how nature can provide models for man-made air vehicles. Mankind has learned (and is learning) a great deal by observing living organisms in an attempt to replicate their physical abilities. The intent of this lesson is to leverage the students’ interest and appreciation of nature, to introduce the physics involved with flight, as well as the engineering design process. The introduction will involve a multimedia presentation featuring various living things in flight. Examples include A flying tree squirrel gliding from one tree to another, an albatross flying on an extremely long flight, an eagle plucking a trout out of a stream, an owl swooping down to snatch a field mouse, a hummingbird and/or a bumble bee flying at tremendous speeds with frequent quick turns, a maple seed “whirlybird”, etc. Students complete a series of inquiries in order to gain a deeper understanding of the principles of flight as they make connections between living organisms and man-made air vehicles. After the students have connected the form and function of natural systems with the structure and motion of different air vehicles, they will design an air vehicle to meet certain specifications. Students will work in design teams to engineer, test, and redesign their air vehicles in order to meet specifications for speed, distance, duration, height, etc.
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