Changing Wing Types

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Author: Flite Test STEM

Article Type: teachers-input

Level: Middle School

Summary: Case study of 8th grade student conducting an Inquiry and Design created problem.

Project Info

An 8th grade student in the FT Workbench Learning Strand has completed the Build 2 Fly Learning Strand and is now moving into the Inquiry and Design Learning Strand. The student-created problem was to apply a different wing configuration to a previously built class aircraft in order to study different flight characteristics.



Standards Addressed:

The following standards were taken from the FT STEM Middle School Curriculum Overview.



Creativity and Innovation

Research and Information Literacy

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making

Technology Operations and Concepts



Understand both metric and customary systems of measurement.

Understand, select and use units of appropriate size and type to measure angles, perimeter, area, surface area and volume.

Select and apply techniques and tools to accurately find length, area, volume and angle measurements to appropriate levels of precision.

Develop strategies to determine the surface area and volume of selected prisms, pyramids and cylinders.



Work flexibly with fractions, decimals and percents to solve problems.



Use two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects to visualize and solve problems such as those involving surface area and volume.



Research, Design, Create, Test



Materials Needed:

A previous FT scratch build design build kit and PDF drawing.

CAD Software (Use this link for FREE CAD Download)

Laser Cutter or use the following lesson for printing plans manually.

FT Foam Board 

FT Crafty Kit with supplies

FT Power Pack C with 6x4 prop

Lumenier 2250 mAh 3S 35C LiPo



Case Study

A new student has come to me with a new inquiry, "Mr. Marshall, what would happen if I take this aircraft and change the design of the main wing into a delta style design?"

It was obvious Claira was done and ready to move on from the Build 2 Fly Learning Strand. The original design was the 35 Lightning, which incorporated ailerons and dual elevator control surfaces for its means of flight control. The new design calls to eliminate the traditional setup, moving the ailerons all the way back towards the current location of the elevator control surfacces. This Inquiry and Design proposal forced Claira to do her homework. She was to use the FT Engineering Design Model to keep her focused on the problem at hand.

Claira first started to research the concepts of the Delta wing design, its history, the pros and cons. From there she selected an angle and shape of wing to take to the drawing table. She created numerous sketches on how her solution might take shape, eventually coming up with one to design. Using CAD and past DWG files of the 35 Lightning, she re-worked the plane to accomodate her new Delta design. This process took weeks and involved heavy use of measurement, critical thinking skills, and constant reflection. Prototyping was the next steop. With the physical pieces in hand, Claira was able to dry fit the plane and see where her measurements were off and what modifications needed to be made. After dry fitting a successful build, it was time to Create her design solution. From there it was history! She tested her aircraft, and after making final revisions, she came up with the following Delta transformation of the 35 Lightning. She called it the Thunder! Her plane proved to be a huge hit, super fast, and made a lasting impact in the classroom. On to Engineering and Design strand!


Claira's Maiden Video


Build Video