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Gliding Into The Basics Of Aviation and Gravity

Morgan Pratt
Third graders play with their Styrofoam gliders

Third graders from the Edith Bowen Laboratory School visited the Logan-Cache Airport on March 1 to learn how airplanes interact with gravity. As part of the project each student designed and built their own Styrofoam plate glider. They watched in wonder as experts shared their knowledge about the impacts of gravity on airplanes.  

Third grade class photographer, Gwyneth Zollinger, held her newly made Styrofoam airplane in her hands while she inspected it up close. She said she learned something from the field trip. 

“Uuuuhm,” she said. “Airplanes take over gravity.”

She and her classmates always enjoy an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom, but she said this trip was especially fun.

“Because we get to see airplanes and we get to make them,” she said.

Third grade teacher Nancy Stewart said the students have just finished a unit in their science class about gravity.

“We just thought it would be fun to come out to the airport and learn how airplanes overcome gravity and give the kids a hands-on experience,” she said.

Instructors at Edith Bowen are working to incorporate opportunities, like the airport field trip, to help student’s experience play-based learning. Steward said students learn through play and this happens through a process called place-spaced learning, when students learn by experiencing things first-hand.

Andreas Wesemann is an assistant professor of Utah State University’s Aviation Technology Program. He said providing a hands-on experience is extremely beneficial because students can see with their very own Styrofoam glider how planes and gravity relate.

“By looking at not just modern airliners but small gliders, they are able to then appreciate the science of flight instead of just the magic of it,” he said.

Wesemann fell in love with aviation when he was in elementary school. That is when he realized he wanted to grow up to become a pilot.    

“I had my dream come true”, he said. “If I can pass that on to the next generation of pilots, nothing is more rewarding”.