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Lesson Title: Controlling the Plane
May 11, 2012

Unit: Physical Science - Aeronautics

Grade Levels: 4-6

Connection To Curriculum: Science, Mathematics and Technology

Teacher Prep Time: 1 hour

Lesson Time Needed: 2 hours

Complexity: Moderate

Keywords: aeronautics, parts of a plane


A copy of the instructions "Making a Straw Plane," for each group of students
A 12-inch (30.5-centimeter), strong, plastic straw for each student
A 12- by 18-inch (30.5- by 45.7-centimeter) sheet of heavy card stock or other stiff paper for each student
Clear tape
Paper clips
A 12-inch (30.5-centimeter) ruler
A copy of the Straw Plane Experiments 1–4
Copies of the Straw Plane Experiments 1–4 for each student
Overhead projector
A graph transparency
A free-flying area and a measured area for test flights

The students will construct a working model straw glider, identify the major parts of an airplane and experimentally determine how the ailerons, elevators and rudders control a glider.

Students will:
• Explain how the ailerons, rudder and elevator control the direction of the airplane.
• Identify the movements of roll, pitch and yaw.
• Construct an airplane, test it and graph the results of their test flights.

First page of Controlling the Plane

Lesson Guide
Controlling the Plane Lesson
[124KB PDF file]



Lesson Activities and Sequence

The Courage to Soar

  1. Straw Plane Experiment 1-Ailerons
    Fly a straw glider keeping elevators and rudder neutral and change ailerons position. Record direction of the glider.
  2. Straw Plane Experiment 2-Elevators
    Fly a straw glider keeping ailerons and rudder neutral and change elevator position. Record direction of the glider.
  3. Straw Plane Experiment 3-Rudders
    Fly a straw glider keeping ailerons and elevators neutral and change rudder position. Record direction of the glider.
  4. Straw Plane Experiment 4-Flight Tests
    Adjust the ailerons, elevator and rudder of the plane to any position that will make it fly the greatest distance-up, down, flat or straight. Record distance of the glider. Compute the range, mean and median distances of the flights.

Keywords: aeronautics, aircraft parts


National Standards:

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• Understanding of scientific concepts.
• An appreciation of "how we know" what we know in science.
• Understanding of the nature of science.
• Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
• The dispositions to use the skills, abilities and attitudes associated with science.

Physical Science
• Properties and changes of properties in matter.
• Motions and forces.
• Transfer of energy.

Science and Technology
• Abilities of technological design.
• Understanding about science and technology.

History and Nature of Science
• Science as a human endeavor.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, NCTM
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
• Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems.
• Generate and analyze patterns.
• Analyze patterns and relationships.
• Write and interpret numerical expressions.

ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students, ISTE
Creativity and Innovation
• Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
• Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.

Communication and Collaboration
• Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.

Research and Information Fluency
• Plan strategies to guide inquiry.
• Process data and report results.

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
• Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
• Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
• Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.

Technology Operations and Concepts
• Understand and use technology systems.
• Select and use applications effectively and productively.
• Troubleshoot systems and applications.


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