Scaling Planes

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Author: Flite Test STEM

Article Type: teachers-input

Level: Middle School


After a student has completed a few Build 2 Fly kits, they are often ready to shift to FT STEM's third learning strand called Inquiry and Design. At this stage the student gets curious, and they start to inquire about changing up the design characteristics of previously created FT or other scratch build aircraft. As FT educators, we want to capitalize on this student learning moment. As an 8th grader, Scaling is a huge state standard that they need to have mastered, and it will most likely show up on their state testing come spring. It was a natural fit in our STEM curriculum to have the student scale down a plane to a workable size that can still perform in flight. Ashton was able to understand the concept of scaling by taking the CAD files of his aircraft creation and scaling it down to accommodate the new design specifications, mainly in the form of prop and power system dimensions.

His first attempt was too small. Did the educator know? Of course, but in order for him to learn, I needed to stay out of this learning moment and let him fail. Coaching him along the way and giving him pointers on what he needed to keep in mind when scaling down his plane, Ashton was able to find the correct scaling of this plane to make it work and fly with great results.

Time to move on and tinker with another plane!