POINT PLEASANT — Much like Orville and Wilbur Wright, the fourth graders of Roosevelt Elementary have been studying the forces behind what makes a airplane fly, and have taken what they learned and put it to good use.
On Friday morning, the students participated in the “Fourth Grade Fly-Off,” a paper airplane competition to see whose plane would go the farthest, with the help of their teachers, husband and wife Dave and Karen Jackson. A makeshift runway in the school hallway served as the place of competition, with markers set every ten tiles.
The research behind the competition began with a study of Bernoulli’s Principle, named for Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli. A student described this principle, stating that the air around the wings of a paper airplane will move faster across the top of the wings, and slower underneath the wings, which is what causes the plane to lift up in the air. Other students went on to list several other topics covered in this project, which included gravity, drag, lift, thrust, force, and aerodynamics.
“It’s really fun,” another student said about the project.
Following this research, the students were able to go to www. funpaperairplanes.com, where they downloaded a paper airplane pattern of their choice, and begin their plane’s construction. Along with the pattern came precise directions on how to measure the correct length and how to fold or cut the paper in the right way. The students not only learned the importance of following directions, but how different shapes and sizes can make a big difference during the flight of their airplane.
As with any competition, there are a set of rules to follow. Those rules were the following:
- Teachers cannot help with folds, cuts, or directions.
- You get three practice throws. Throw number four counts.
- The nose of the plane determines the distance flown.
- All judge’s decisions are final.
- Grip it and rip it.
The plane’s distance was measured by floor tiles, which were reported to be one foot long each. The students also learned the plane’s flight can be affected by the tip of the plane, as well as where their hand is when the plane is released. Dave Jackson said they will also be using the numbers from their completed flights for a few math calculations, like mean, median, mode and range, otherwise known as the average, the middle, the most often occurring number, and the difference between the largest and smallest, respectfully.
This fun project comes at the end of a grueling week for the fourth graders. This week, students in grades 3-11 all across Mason County have been hard at work this week taking the West Virginia Educational Standards Test (WESTEST). The WESTEST covers science, social studies, mathematics, and reading/language arts, and measures how the students compare to the No Child Left Behind requirements. There are five levels in which a student can rank, which are novice, partial mastery, mastery, above mastery, and distinguished.
“It’s a great way to end the WESTEST,” said Karen Jackson. Karen went on to say when on to talk on the importance of having fun at school while they’re teaching, and the students are learning.
It was also reported that both Dave and Karen will also be retiring at the end of this school year, both of them having 34 years of teaching under their belts. Karen has been teaching at Roosevelt for the last six years, and Dave has been there for the last three.
“It’s been a terrific career,” Karen said. “We both love kids and helping them learn.”
“Every day that goes by, I feel like it’s a calling,” Dave said. He went on to discuss several things that it takes to be a good teacher, such as patience and understanding, and even love. He stated that everyone can look back at their childhood school career and clearly remember certain teachers that not only taught them well, but did it in a fun and enjoyable way, and he stated he hopes that is how his students will remember him.