Activity Overview: 

Students learn about the main parts of an airplane and their functions. The students apply their knowledge of the parts of a plane using a flight simulator. They learn how to do a flight plan and how to use flight controls.

PURPOSE: The students will learn the main parts of an airplane and be able to explain their functions. The students will then apply their knowledge of the parts of a plane using a flight simulator. They will learn how to do a flight plan and what happens when they move the flight controls.

Aviation Objectives:

  1. The students will know the main parts of the airplane.
  2. The students will compare parts of the real airplane with those on the Internet site.
  3. The students will know how to use the flight simulator.
  4. The students will use a digital camera, Internet, flight simulator, and other forms of technology.
  5. The students will make an airplane out of Styrofoam.
  6. The students will keep a flight logbook.

Students learn the main parts of an airplane. They go to the airport to see these parts of the plane and make comparisons with the parts of a plane seen on the NASA Web site. They observe and learn how to use the flight simulator.

(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)




Curriculum Standards


National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators http://cnets.iste.org/sfors.htm

Each student will need to have a worksheet with a plane diagram.  They will also have six different colors to use so they can mark on the airplane the parts that are highlighted in red.

Science 5-8: A1, B2




A student will be picked to go to the big screen projector. He/she will point at one part of the airplane. The person running the computer will then put the mouse on the part to show the term of that part on the big screen projector.

Science 5-8: E1



Grades 6-8: 4,5,7,8

The class will color and label the part of the plane on the worksheet in their science notebooks. These are the parts of the plane: fuselage, wing, rudder, elevator, flaps, ailerons, and shape of the wing.

Science 5-8: A2


Grades 6-8:  4,5

The student running the computer will then double click on the computer. This will bring up a definition of the main part of the airplane. We will then write the definition of the part in the notebook.

Science 5-8: A2, E2



Grades 6-8: 5

Next, the students will take the airplanes that they made in art class (we took a styrofoam food tray size 12 and a diagram of an airplane. They cut out a copy of the airplane and put it together) and show the part of the plane to the classroom teacher.

Science 5-8: A2


The students will discuss what happened when they flew the plane by moving that part of the plane in art class.

 Science 5-8: B2, E1 




The class will do the same for the other five parts of an airplane.



The class will then go to the airport to look at a real airplane. The person showing the airplane will go over the six parts of the plane. The students will use a digital camera to take pictures of the parts of the airplane. The pilot will show what part of the airplane runs that part of the plane. They will compare it with their notes on the parts.

Science 5-8: B2, A1



Grades 6-8: 4,5,6,8,9

After returning from the field trip, we will print off the digital camera pictures and discuss differences between the computer’s plane, the real plane, and other types of airplanes.

Science 5-8: E2



Grades 6-8: 4,5,6,8,9

The next step is to show the students how to run the flight simulator. A worksheet with the steps of turning it on and off will be given to each student. The group of seventh graders who ran the computer simulator will use the big screen projector to show how it is done. They will stress that this is not a toy and your movements of the equipment must be slow like what a pilot would do.

Science 5-8:  A1, E1



Grades 6-8: 1,4,5,6,8,9,10

They will go through double clicking on Loadepic. When it says that it is loaded, then they double click the icon for Flight Simulator 98.

Grades 5-8:  E1



Grades 6-8: 1,4,5,6,8,10

The student will then go to the File column and go to Select a Flight. You will pick the Cessna, Eppley Airfield, Daytime, and Good Weather.

Grades 5-8: E-1


Grades 6-8: 1,5,9,10

The student will then show how to do a flight pattern that each student will learn later in this lesson. Every student will be paired with a partner and each person will have at least 12 to 15 minutes of flight time on the simulator. This will be done in the morning, during noon, in free periods, or after school. Each person will keep a flight logbook on how long and whether he or she was able to land the plane correctly.

Science 5-8: A1, E1





Gateway computer. Gateway. Available: http://www.gateway.com

Hewlett Packard Printer. Hewlett Packard. Available: http://www.hp.com/country/us/eng/welcome.htm

Big screen projector

Sony Digital Camera. Sony. Available: http://www.sel.sony.com

D & E Flight Simulators Inc. Simpkins Design Group. Available: http://www.flyit.com/genav.html, $1,140

An airplane from a local airport
Notebook to keep notes, worksheets, reports, and quizzes.

Art supplies:
A big sheet of art paper for the time line
Large paper sack for the experiment on wing design
Styrofoam food tray size 12 (to make the airplane)
Sand paper

Flight Simulator 98.(1997). Microsoft Corporation. Available: http://www.microsoft.com.

Cessna CD-ROMS,” Cleared for takeoff multimedia training system” King Schools, Inc.: San Diego.

Printed Resources:
Cleared for takeoff. (1999). King Schools, Inc: San Diego.

Aeronautics- an educator’s Guide with activities in science, mathematics and technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Public domain and not protected by copyright. (Education http://spacelink.nasa.gov/products)

Web sites:
For parts of the airplane

For history of an airplane http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/trc

For how an airplane flies http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/trc

The assessment will be done by grading quizzes that come off the Cessna CD-ROMS, checking the science notebook worksheets, grading reports on aviation history, and grading how well they fly the simulator and read the instruments when flying the flight pattern.

Mr. Don Groff, fifth and sixth grade elementary science teacher, Woodbine, Iowa School 
e-mail groff@woodbine.k12.ia.us
Home rdgroff@pionet.net

Computer Resources Inc. Roy Williamson for hooking up simulator 

Mr. Ted Webb, Technology Specialist, Woodbine Iowa, tw@woodbine.k12.ia.us

Cleared for Takeoff, from Cessna for allowing us to use parts of their multimedia training system to generate interest in flying.

Todd Heistand for the use of his airplane to compare parts of a real airplane to the Internet airplane.

Thanks goes out to Lindsey, Jared, Dylan, Miranda, Becky, and Mathew for showing the sixth grade how to use the flight simulator.

A thanks for the donation from Moores for the simulator in memory of Allison and Bryan Dinslage.

Dave Stamp for flying the plane and showing the students the parts of a real plane.

Foodland for donating Styrofoam plates for the art part of the lesson.

The timeline for teaching the students this course on flying an airplane will take 10 to 12 class days. This will be the first time that this course is taught, so changes will be made after it is done to see what can be improved or dropped. The students will be running a wide range of computer equipment. This includes: digital camera, computer hooked to Internet, research on the Internet for aviation history, typing reports, taking quizzes from CD-ROMS on a big screen projector, printing digital camera pictures, and using the flight simulator.

We will show the students how to run the flight simulator ahead of time. The students will have to learn the six instruments that will be used in the flight pattern and how to read them later in the course. We wanted to let people see what our simulator looked like and how easy it is to run on the video.

This is a unit that is being developed by taking pieces of many different teaching guides. Some include: NASA’s Aeronautics guide, Cessna’s interactive software, Flight Simulator 98 software, and NASA’s Internet site on the parts of a plane and history of aviation. I have not taught this before.

Technology Resources:
I chose to do this unit because it has a lot of technology being used in it and the equipment that is being used allows students to do something most people only dream of doing. The simulator only cost $1,140. It was the cheapest we could find, and it still runs like a real plane.

School Background Information:
We are a small rural town with a population of 1,500 people.  The parents of the students work at Tommy Gate, John Deere, a natural food or herbs factory, 15 small businesses, and are farmers. Our enrollment goes between 500-600 students.  All but two of our students speak English and those two know the Arabic language.  We have the two Arabic students and in my twenty-eight years of teaching we have had three African-American students.

Teaching Strategy:
I chose to use this teaching strategy because it opens an area for students to use technology and computer equipment that is not available in most areas. It was an area that does not require much motivation.

Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in This Activity http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/modelimage.html
(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

Principles of Learning: The students will be running the computer and pointing to the parts of the airplane on the big screen, which covers Active Involvement. They will use the flight simulator to do a flight pattern. This will help them to practice taking off and landing which is Informal Learning. When we are done with the parts of the airplane, students will be asked to take their Styrofoam airplanes and point to the parts when the teacher tells what part they are looking for. The student will also explain what it does. The Patterns and Connections, and Enjoyable Setting come when we go the airport to point out the differences between parts of the plane seen on the Internet site and the parts of a real plane.

Information Processing: The students will have a lot of hands on experience when touching the parts of the airplane. They will Communicate with the class what is different from the Internet parts.

Democracy: Each student will learn to Tolerate answers of the comparisons of the parts of the plane. The class will learn by discussing through a debate about the comparison.

Student Characteristics:
Due to prior experience with the simulator, I know my students are ready to experience the use of this new technology. The students know that they are one of, if not the only, sixth grade classes in the state that will be using a simulator to learn to fly a plane. I feel that even some of our special needs students will enjoy learning how to fly. This will be a great motivator for sixth grade science for the rest of the year.

Evolution of the Activity:
This project idea came from our fifth and sixth grade computer club, which runs on a volunteer basis. We raised money through selling pizza books and a donation from a family to buy this simulator. I then decided I would like to make a curriculum and try to generate interest in flying an airplane. Over the summer I contacted Cessna for permission to use small parts of their CD-ROMS and worked on what I think will be a good lesson for students on how to enjoy flying an airplane.

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology http://cnets.iste.org/students)