SNOW HILL — Though their feet remained firmly on the ground, students in Snow Hill Middle School’s (SHMS) Summer Academy got a taste of what it would be like to take to the skies with a four-week program based around flight.
“They’re learning all about flight,” said SHMS Extended School Administrator Mary Ann Cooper.
During the program, students in grades 4-8 learned about plane design, aviation history, famous pilots and the physics of flight. Students in fourth and fifth grade also designed and constructed paper airplanes, while sixth graders built model cargo planes. Seventh and eighth graders went a step further by crafting more advanced models.
“They’re very serious about it,” said Cooper.
Students got the chance to see their planes take flight last Friday when the models were hooked up to a power source that allowed them to left off and fly in rotation around a fixed pole.
“They take a lot of pride in it,” said Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) instructor Joshua Hamborsky of the moment when a plane finally goes airborne.
He added that they should be proud, since each model plane is built custom by each student, including soldering parts and shaping the craft.
“They sand the wings to give them a foil,” said Hamborsky.
The immersion in actual design allowed for the most learning and, according to several students, the most fun.
“I enjoyed soldering the motor onto my plane, working with technology, and connecting wires,” explained Hailey Brown, a rising sixth grader.
Even slight changes in a design could produce noticeable results, added fellow rising sixth grader Jessica Wynne.
“I found that when I moved my wings forward my plane flew higher,” she said.
Another rising sixth grader, William Wise, commented on how the summer academy on flight improved peripheral skills as well.
“Learning about flight helps give us a better understanding about a lot of things, like electronics and how planes are able to fly,” he said.
During their test run last Friday, the planes managed to climb several feet off the ground, with the lighter seventh and eighth grade models able to reach five or six feet of lift, according to Hamborsky, and the heavier sixth grade cargo planes generally flew about a yard or so off the ground. An inner-county competition for the models was also held at SHMS Monday.
Coordinator of Instruction for Afterschool and Summer Academies Tamara Mills mentioned the horizon-broadening applications of the flight program.
“The kids have done a lot of experimenting,” she said.
Mills called the project a “perfect example of problem solving” and asserted that the overall goal of the academy is to promote STEM skills. Cooper pointed out that the experimenting was allowing students to find the most effective, and interesting, model designs.
“They’re taking everything they learn and bringing it here to apply to the plane,” she said.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson, who took over for long-serving predecessor Dr. Jon Andes officially this month, highlighted the need for STEM-based education in Worcester County and a thriving Summer Academy.
“Over time, the purpose of summer school has changed,” said Wilson. “It once was considered remedial, limited for struggling students. Our school system believes that offering enrichment opportunities will strengthen the academic performance of all students. In addition, it sparks excitement for learning, providing students with the ability to connect learning with educational and STEM career pathways.”
Cooper agreed, saying, “This is getting them ready for college and a career.”