Two Classroom STEM Activities

By Gordon Schimmel, AMA's education outreach specialist


Jetstream & FPG-9

The Science

The point of these lessons, what some educators call "The Big Idea," is that both models illustrate Newton's Third Law: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." The lift that enables the FPG-9 and the Jetstream to fly, nicely illustrates this Law, as does the action of the control surfaces on the FPG-9. The glider activity gives students the chance to use control surface settings to bank and turn (even loop) the plane as desired. In addition, the Jetstream activity gives students practice in manipulating variables such as weight and drag, and provides an opportunity for them to work together in teams to design the fastest flying airplane.

These two activities originally were written for STEM classroom presentations, but they easily can be modified for use with community groups by simply omitting the mathematical calculations and encouraging children to observe the differences in flight performance when variables such as weight and drag are added.

Room Set-Up

A "typical" classroom setting to do these presentations is rare; district facilities vary in size configuration so these instructions are written for the most ideal of circumstances. A fundamental requirement is that student desks must be movable to enable sufficient fling space to be created in the room to accommodate FPG-9 and Jetstream test flights.

Introduction to the Academy of Model Aeronautics

Talking Points:

  • The AMA provides the organizational support for more than 2,400 model flying clubs in the U.S.
  • The Academy was the original STEM organization! When Lindbergh flew the Atlantic in 1927, model airplane clubs and ensuing competitions were seen as an educational pathway to a technical education-thus our name. The Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Assembly Instructions for the FPG-9 and Jetstream Activities

Important: Presenters should review the two AeroLab videos on how to assemble and fly the FPG-9 and the rubber-powered balsa model, as well as practice flying each model before doing a presentation with teachers and students. Below is a history of the AMA/ARCONIC partnership and assembly instructions for the FPG-9.

The FPG-9 (Foam Plate Glider, 9-Inch)

Prep and Set-Up

  • Three or four " built-examples" of FPG-9s greatly simplify instruction during the lesson.
  • Scissors for each student are necessary to assemble FPG-9s.
  • Pennies for the FPG-9 are necessary for each student.
  • The classroom teacher can help distribute an FPG-9, scissors, and a six-inch strip of masking tape to each student that will be used for FPG-9 assembly.

Assembly and Flight Instruction

  • Assemble FPG-9
  • Demonstrate launch technique
  • Give the students 10 minutes to test fly the glider

The "Total Control" Video

If time permits, show "Total Control," the 10-minute video that illustrates how the Wright Brothers unlocked the secret of controllable flight.

Conclude the session by reminding the students that this model aircraft flies on flat wings, illustrating the lifting power of Newton's Third Law: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."


Instructions for the Guillow's Jetstream Activity

Prep and Set-Up

  • Three or four "built-examples" of the Jetstream greatly simplifies instruction during the lesson.
  • Typically, the classroom teacher will have a desk-size wastebasket handy tha tyou can borrow to use as a platform for the pylon.
  • Assemble the pylon with a tether slightly less than two-meters, and mount it on the inversted wastebasket.
  • Position wastebasket with pylon and tether in the flying space at the rear of the room.
  • Using masking tape, lay out four "hash-marks" at 0, 90, 180, 270 degrees around the flight perimeter, to enable students to more accurately sport takeoffs and landing.
  • If at all possible, test-fly the Jetstream on the tether before the students arrive.

Assembly and Flight Instruction

  • Demonstrate the short time rubber-band motor provided in the kit
  • Demonstrate stretch-winding competition rubber-band, proper launch techniques
  • Assemble the Jetstream
  • With the classroom teacher's help, divide the group into teams of four to wind the motor and help each team with their initial flights.

Conclude the session by reminding the students that this model aircraft flies on flat wings, illustrating the lifting power of Newton's Third Law: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

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