Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Teachers Air Camp: Day 3 (Summer 2022)


Day 3: Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Uffda. After a 13 hour day yesterday, not getting back to the hotel until almost 10PM last night, and not getting to sleep until midnight, our 7:30AM call time came EARLY this morning. 

Armed with caffeine, we departed the Marriott and headed to MacAir Aviation where we were given our flight suits and pre-flight instruction and safety briefing. Unfortunately the temperatures exceeded 90 degrees today, so it was far too warm to actually fly in our flight suits. Our flight route is below!


Before my flight, I got to do the flight simulator. I thought it was harder than the one we did yesterday. Yesterday’s just included a joystick, whereas today’s had all the gears and tools of a real plane. I managed to take off and fly no problem, but the landing was tough!!

Then I got to FLY!!! My instructor’s name was Ethan, and he has been flying since January 2020. He is graduating with his Bachelor’s in the fall. I was afraid when I asked him how long he’d been flying it would only be like a year because he seemed so young! 



We flew in a Piper plane for about 25-30 minutes, and it was every bit as hard and scary as I thought it would be. This is coming from someone who didn’t want to learn to drive a car though, so take that with a grain of salt. The clouds were coming in, but we managed to find a pocket so we could get above them and up to 4500 feet. It was much smoother up there! Not everyone was able to go that high, so I felt pretty lucky.




I was a little worried about my ears since they both had infections earlier in the month and the fluid hasn’t completely drained yet. I brought some gum (thankfully, I needed it), but my ears needed some major popping once we landed. Got my first (and last!) flight in my flight log book though!



For lunch we had boxed lunches from Sweets Boutique, which included fresh fruit, a giant cookie, and a sandwich. We spent about an hour sitting around and chatting and reflecting. 

Our next lesson included a multitude of STEM and engineering activities.

Wind Tunnel Activity: Our first activity revolved around using a wind tunnel. The goal was to use the given materials (fuzzy sticks, straws, tape, cling wrap, and our trusty captain - a rubber fish) to create a boat that gets across the water tub inside the Very Hungry Caterpillar wind tunnel in the fastest time. The design could be no longer than 6 inches and no wider than 6 inches, but there was no constraint on height.


I worked with Missy, Lexi, and Bev. We decided to use straws to build a raft because they were smooth and light-weight, then create a pirate ship-style sail with straws and cling wrap. We used four points of contact between the cling wrap at the straws so that there was room for air flow. We determined we should put the sail on the back of the raft so the wind wouldn’t get caught on the fish, and that the fish would act as a counter weight so that the sail wouldn’t blow it over. 



Our first test did NOT make it across the pond. The fail point was that the water went into the straws in the front of the raft. Our solution was to use a piece of straw to block the holes. We timed it and it made it across the pond with the fan on low in 1.6 seconds.



We decided to improve our raft by adding two more straw bits to the front so the water couldn’t go over the top. This did improve our time to 1.21 seconds!

Lastly, we decided to add two straws to each side to balance it and keep water off the raft. Again, our improvement worked! Our last test was 1.16 seconds!


To relate water to wind when introducing this project, you can talk to students about swimming, because it’s a topic that most students can relate to. What do you do with your hand when you swim the front crawl? Curve your fingers forward (like the air foils!) A constraint to give my fifth graders could be that the length of the width of their boat has to end in a quarter of an inch - this gives them practice with measurement.


Straw Rocket: our next activity was to build a straw rocket. The directions were: here is a straw, a piece of paper, some scissors, and some tape. Build the perfect rocket. 
After we built our rockets, we launched them off the straw rocket launcher. We got to choose the angle we wanted to launch from and the height we wanted to drop the launcher from. 


I launched my rocket from an angle of 45 degrees and dropped from 38 inches. My rocket launched 2.7 meters!




After students have launched their rockets, you can ask “which rocket was the perfect rocket?” The answer is that you can’t tell because there were too many different variables (different launch angles, different drop heights, etc.) The next step could be to split students into four groups and have each group explore a different variable, then use that data to determine the final constraints and allow students to build individual straw rockets once again. You could also set up hula hoops as targets and have students analyze the data to manipulate the distance their rocket launches.


Our next destination was the Greene County Career Center where juniors and seniors in high school can go to complete their high school courses AND receive a technical certificate.

While there, we also learned about some changes women made to flight. One was the flight suit. A pregnant pilot had to keep sizing up in flight suits, and one day her sleeve got caught because it was so big and it blew her engine. They changed flight suit sizing after that. They also had to make chairs movable because many women were too short to reach the rudders.

We heard from one of the founders of Air Camp before having dinner. He told us about how air camp started and about the donors that fund it.  We pay a $100 deposit to hold our place, but otherwise it is completely free for teachers who are accepted to attend thanks for a special donor which is AMAZING. 

The last part of our day included four modules.

The first was an ecological talk with an agriculture from the school. It was a lot of random information that none of us really knew what to do with, but he was very passionate about his subject!

Second, we looked at a Mission regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and talked about the different missions we could create with that topic. Missy and I decided to look at abandoned animals and thought designing a shelter to help take care of the animals could be a good project.

Our third module was about electricity and some activities that can be done in this unit.

One activity would be to give students a ziplock bag with a D battery, an alligator wire, and a small lightbulb, and tell them they have to light the light bulb. Our instructor said most students will try to do the “Statue of Liberty” where they attach one end of the alligator clip to the lightbulb and hold it up, and the other to the battery (which won’t work).


She also mentioned how she would give students the board game “Operation” as well as a paper copy of the image in the board. Students have to draw on the paper copy what they think the circuits look like, then they can dissect the game to see if they’re correct. 

Another activity is to use a piece of paper with holes punched into each side. Then, use a strip of aluminum foil to connect two of the holes and cover it with packing tape. Repeat this process until all the holes are covered, then flip it over. Students can use two alligator clips with a light in the middle, and connect the clips to two holes. If the holes are matched up with foil on the back the bulb will light up!


You can use paper with copper tape and lights, and a 3V battery to create a closed circuit and a parallel circuit.


Lastly we made a flashlight/light saber by putting copper tape on both sides of a popsicle stick. Then, take one of the metal pieces out of a binder clip and replace it with a copper. An LED light is taped on the end connecting the copper tape on both sides. A 3V battery is taped onto the popsicle stick and you can turn it off and on by flipping the metal part of the binder clip up and down.


Our last module of the night was drone flying! I had used the Tello drones with the app at Space Camp, so I knew what I was doing. Bonus - we all got our own drones at the end of the night!!


We wrapped up the night with some giveaways and discussion about the next day before heading back to the hotel a little before 10. It was another 14+ hour day and I am exhausted! Tomorrow is our last day, and then I've got a 5-hour drive back to Tennessee! 

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