Over a period of 12 years, Orono
Middle School has involved sixth grade students in aerospace educational
projects that go way beyond the state's educational standards. Since
1991, under the guidance and direction of two educators, Richard Glueck
and Christopher Chilelli, sixth graders have annually combined their
math and science skills to reproduce full-size replicas of the shuttle
flight deck, the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, two Apollo EVA suits,
the M2-F2 lifting body, flying copies of several Wright and Chanute
gliders, the Ritchel 1896 bicycle powered airship, and a hot air balloon.
Before any of the full-scale replicas could be undertaken, the students
had to learn about and understand construction and engineering concepts
as they relate to modeling. What follows is a description of the modeling
process that was used to build a replica of the Wright 1902 glider
constructed in honor of the upcoming 100th anniversary of powered
flight that will take place in 2003.
To set up the program, a drawing
of the air or spacecraft being modeled had to be obtained. The teacher
obtained information by searching through museum resources, libraries
and the web for appropriate guidelines. One resource that was be very
useful was the World War I Aero Magazine. The plans for the Wright
brothers¹ 1902 glider were obtained from the web at: http://www.first-to-fly.com/Adventure/1902plans.htm.
These particular plans are very complete and only required a bit of
editing to make them 6th grade user friendly.
The first step in the educational plan to build the Wright brothers
1902 glider was to have the students copy three views of the aircraft;
one in profile, one from the top down, and one face-on.
The measurements on the original plans were eliminated via correction
fluid and the students were challenged to use historical photographs
of the Wright 1902 glider in flight to determine its actual measurements
and then establish a scale for drawing the glider. Certain clues,
such as the average height of people in the pictures, allowed students
to come up with sensible measurements.
The students estimates were discussed in class andcompared to the
actual measurements of the 1902 glider. This approach is similar
to the techniques some aviation historians use when recreating the
Wright gliders. Actual measurements of some of the Wright gliders
is not available because they were used as fuel for the Wrights
wood burning stove at the conclusion of their experiments!
For more information about this exciting project, please visit
the NASA Glenn Research Center at: