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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Glide Away
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


  • Paper.
  • Scissors.
  • Hot glue gun.
  • Hot-wire styrofoam cutter.
  • Masking tape.
  • Plastic wrap.
  • 12 craft sticks per student.
  • One strip of approx 1/8"x1/8"x36" balsa wood per student.
  • One Styrofoam tray per student.
  • One 1'x1'x2" Styrofoam block per student.
  • Hot glue.
  • Elmer's glue.
  • Chip board.
  • Pencils.
Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

-- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
-- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
-- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
-- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

The following sites should be bookmarked:

  • Force On a Wing

    This site allows students to interactively set an aircraft's wing to different angles in order to observe the resulting lift and drag forces. You will need to download the Macromedia Shockwave plug-in ( in order to use the site.

  • Aeronautics Learning Laboratory for Science, Technology and Research

    This site, sponsored by NASA, is an excellent resource for students of all grade levels. It explores several math, science, and technology concepts as applied to the design and construction of aircrafts.

  • Aviation Resource Center

    This site provides information on topics specific to flight, such as airfoils, planform design, angle of incidence, and forces acting on an aircraft in flight.

  • See How It Flies

    This site includes detailed, advanced explanations about how aircrafts fly.


    Time Allotment:
    This technology learning activity requires approximately 10 class periods.

  • Design Brief and Criteria:

    Introduce students to the Design Brief, in Organizers for Students. Begin a brief class discussion by asking students the question, "How do planes fly?"

  • Research:

    Break students into groups of two. Distribute a copy of the Research Log, in Organizers for Students, to each group of students. Have the students examine each site and record the relevant information.

  • Solutions:

    Have the students sketch at least four different designs for their glider project. Important aspects of each design (e.g., materials, size) should be annotated on the sketch. Remind students to refer to the information they gathered during their Internet research.

    After the students have completed sketches of alternate designs, ask them to choose the design they think will work the best. Remind them that their choice should be the design that will best fit the criteria of the Design Brief, in Organizers for Students.

    The students should then complete a detailed working drawing of the glider that they will actually construct. Have the students include dimensions and other information necessary to build the glider. If possible, have students use a computer-aided design (CAD) program (e.g., AutoCAD, published by Autodesk, Inc.) to complete the drawing. Free CAD shareware can be downloaded from (

  • Building:

    Upon completion of a working drawing, students should begin to construct their gliders using the tools and materials listed in the Design Brief, in Organizers for Students.

  • Testing, Evaluation & Redesign:

    Organize a "Flight Day" event in an open area of the school, perhaps in the gymnasium, or outside if weather permits. Have the students record the distance, time, and pattern of each test flight their glider makes. Have the students graph the data from the entire class's test flights.

    After testing, have each student complete a one-page evaluation of their gliderís flights. Included in the evaluation should be a description of the testing procedure, summary of flight data, and ideas for the redesign of their glider.


    Science: Study the physiology of birds and have students compare them to airplanes and other flying crafts.

    Social Studies: Create a timeline of the history of flight from the Wright brothers' flight to the present day.

    Mathematics: Calculate the mean, median, and mode of the flight data gathered during testing.


    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns. (Always have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer, in order to show them examples of what to look for.) When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked sites.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students