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The Unit

The Intrepid Museum of Sea, Air, and Space will be a field trip to culminate a middle
school unit on aeronautics. The unit follows studies on mechanics and motion. The trip
will include a guided tour by a museum educator based on aviation.
Aviation Tour (grades K-12)
Exploring the restored aircraft collection, classes trace advances in flight, from
propellers to jets to early space vessels. Follow a visual timeline of the Intrepid’s
mission through Work War II, the Jet Age, the Space Race, Vietnam and beyond!
Due to the vast number of airplanes and helicopters on display in the museum, students
have many opportunities to explore using their knowledge of aeronautics. Students might
draw pictures of the wings of several planes and predict the airflow and buoyancy that
would result. In the Exploreum section of the museum, videos describe the skill and
technique involved in landing a plane on an aircraft carrier. The narrator describes the
landing of a commercial flight, where the pilot touches the rear wheels down first and
then lands the front wheel. A fighter pilot lands with all three wheels at the same time.
Different planes are designed differently for different purposes and the museum
eloquently provides information several different types of aircraft. In this field trip,
students will focus on the airfoil of the airplane and how it affects flight. The museum
has several exhibits regarding the development of airplane technology and materials.

Resources for activities and content:

1. How Things Fly -
2. Lesson Plans, Labs, and Demonstrations for the Glider and Boomerang
3. Rocket Educators Guide -

Day 1 Objective: Activities: (in small group Outcomes:

Students will learn about stations) Discover misconceptions
and experience Bernoulli’s - Class KWL chart about and prior knowledge
Principle. aeronautics (planes and students have about flight.
rockets) Discuss possible designs for
- Class discussion of planes using Bernoulli’s
Bernoulli’s principle principle.
- Between the Balloons1
- Blowing in the Wind1
- Fool the Spool1
- Class discussion about
stations and activities
- Complete any aspect of
the ‘L’ in KWL
Day 2 Objective: Activities: (independently Outcomes:
Students will learn about and in pairs) Students can describe how
airfoils and how they relate - Class reading about airflow and pressure helps
to Bernoulli’s Principle. airfoils and airplane to fly and
- Draw airfoils and airflow design their own airfoil to
independently demonstrate understanding.
- Observe home-made
airfoil as a class2
- Design airfoil in pairs to
be tested by fan
- Complete any aspect of
the ‘L’ in KWL
Day 3 Objective: Activities: Outcomes:
Students will explore how - Class brainstorm about Students will apply their
to make an airplane stable ways to stabilize airplanes knowledge of Bernoulli’s
in flight. - Stability and Control1 in principle and center of mass
small groups for small and (from kinematics) to
large paper airplanes airplanes and propose ways
- Brainstorm list of ways to to stabilize real aircraft in
stabilize commercial order to demonstrate what
airplanes they have learned.
- Complete any aspect of
the ‘L’ in KWL
Day 4 Objective: Activities: (Whole class and Outcomes:
Review discussions and small groups) Students will have a
content about airplanes and - Review KWL as whole complete understanding of
flight. class the basic aspects of flight.
- Improving Flight
- Wing Design2
- Center of Gravity and
Flight Performance2
- Complete KWL chart
regarding airplane flight
Day 5 Objective: Activities: Outcomes:
Review Newton’s Law and - Whole class Jeopardy with Students will activate prior
apply them to airplanes and relevant vocabulary3, some knowledge from Newtonian
introduce rockets. review and some new unit and what they might
- Students create individual know about content to
KWL for rocketry. come.
Day 6 Objective: Activities: (small groups in Outcomes:
Students have opportunities stations) Students build
to experience rocketry and - Address KWL chart as a understanding of rockets
learn how rockets work. whole class and add any and how they function
new ideas to the ‘W’ and similarly or differently from
‘L’ columns airplanes.
- 321…PUFF3
- Pop Can “Hero Engine”3
- Introduce and plan for
next class activity
- Review and amend KWL
Day 7 Objective: Activities: Outcomes:
Students will be reminded - Think Pair Share about Students will apply
of Newton’s 3rd Law and Newton’s 3rd Law to active knowledge of Newton’s 3rd
interact with related prior knowledge from Law and predict its role in
phenomena experimentally. mechanics unit rocketry
- Newton’s Car Experiment3
- Small group collages
about Newton’s 3rd Law in
relation to rockets
- Review and amend KWL
Day 8 Objective: Activities: Outcomes:
Students will explore how - Consult whole class and Students can apply
everything they have individual KWL charts Newton’s 3rd Law vertically
learned about aeronautics - Heavy Lifting rocket as well as horizontally
can be applied to lifting a activity in pairs or small
load. groups.3
- Complete whole class
KWL in class and
individually for homework
Day 9 Objective: Activities: Outcomes:
Students demonstrate - Student teams race Students demonstrate
understanding of airplanes or rockets based learning and attainment of
aeronautics. on their own design knowledge from aeronautics
- Teams defend their plans unit.
in writing
- Data taken from trials as
to how far each plane/rocket
flies and how long the flight
- Each plane/rocket is given
a load in the second round
of trials and must pass a
certain line in the room

The Trip
• Planning: you must complete the trip request form available on the Intrepid
website, selecting Educational Programs and requesting the Aviation Tour. A
museum representative will respond promptly:
• Travel: SUBWAY to 42nd Street station and then walk to Pier 86 (45th St and 12th
• Cost: $9.75 per student and extra chaperone (each chaperone within the 1:10
teacher/student ratio is free)
• Food: Students should bring food. There is a very small Au Bon Pain at the
museum, but not large enough to accommodate an entire class. Cafeteria-style
eating space is available. At extra cost, the museum can provide lunch catering.
• Specific To-Do’s: I would want to make sure students get extra time on the Flight
Deck after the tour so they can study the different planes and analyze the designs
through writing/drawing/photography/etc.
• Tour/Speaker: Museum educator guided tour on aviation.
• Other Aspects of Museum: Small gift shop on premises. Growler Submarine and
Concord Jet available to visit.
• Basic Plan: Meet at school and travel together to museum via subway. Meet tour
guide and watch introductory video to the Intrepid. Participate in Aviation Tour.
Stop for a meal/snack and discussion time. Go to the flight deck and each group
will analyze a plane to present to the class next period. Groups can use the
remaining time to explore the museum furthur. Total time at museum =
approximately 4 hours (tour and video are two hours, leaving two hours for
eating, inspecting planes, and exploring).