Information for Teachers and Parents Back to Propulsion

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Table of Contents

  1. Lesson Overview
  2. Hypertext Outline of Lesson
  3. Objectives
  4. Time Allotment
  5. NCTM Process Standards
  6. NCTM Content Standards
  7. Aeronautics Content
  8. Prerequisite Skills
  9. Vocabulary
  10. Materials
  11. Teacher Tips
  12. Additional Activities
  13. Accessibility

I. Lesson Overview

In the Propulsion Department students learn about different types of airplane engines, which provide the thrust necessary for flight. Piston engiens driving propellers and turbine engines (jets, turbofans and turboprops) are covered, with simple animations showing the inside of these engines. Students practice using various formulas to calculate fuel consumption, speed, time and distance and fuel costs of a flight.

II. Hypertext Outline of Lesson

This purpose of this outline is to help you navigate to specific parts of the lesson without having to go through every page. The section titles link to the first pages of that section, and the numbers in parentheses refer to the page number where that section starts.

III. Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will:

IV. Time Allotment

30-40 minutes depending on student's reading ability.

V. NCTM Process Standards

Standard 1: Mathematics as Problem Solving

Standard 2: Mathematics as Communication

Standard 3: Mathematics as Reasoning

Standard 4: Mathematical Connections

VI. NCTM Content Standards

Standard 5: Number and Number Relationships

Standard 6: Number Systems and Number Theory

Standard 7: Computation and Estimation

Standard 8: Patterns and Functions

Standard 9: Algebra

Standard 10: Statistics

Standard 13: Measurement

VII. Aeronautics Content

VIII. Prerequisite Skills

IX. Vocabulary

Vocabulary words are linked to the activity pages on which they're defined.

X. Materials

For helping with calculations:

For the hands-on activity for propellers:

For the hands-on activity for the turbine engine:

XI. Teacher Tips

This lesson can be completed individually but will move faster and be more fun if two or more people work together. The lesson can be done in under an hour if the students are good readers. Pair up students if someone is unable to hold or manipulate objects. Students who are unable to write can provide verbal input on project or make choices during activity. Math software such as MathPad can be used by students who are unable to write and need to do math calculations.

XII. Additional Activities

1. Investigate other applications of the speed, distance and time formula. Have students create their own problems based on this formula, using examples from flying, driving, and walking.

2. Look at fuel economy and consumption information for different types of vehicles, and have students calculate the operating costs of these vehicles. Are less expensive cars always cheaper over the long run than more expensive cars? What's the difference in fuel consumption between cars, motorcycles, boats, and airplanes?

Do you have ideas for other activities to use with this activity? Send your suggestions to us at

XIII. Accessibility

The interactive Shockwave portions of this activity, such as the wind tunnel, are accessible through both the keyboard and the mouse. Students can use the spacebar to cycle through all the entry options on the screen, which will be highlighted by a small yellow bar next to the option. Students then use the up or down arrows to change an option, or press Return or Enter to select a button.

All the pages maintain a consistent grid of 6 buttons along the bottom of the page, which should be accessible through a ClickIt! overlay for IntelliKeys. For more information on using assistive technology, please refer to the document "Making PlaneMath Accessible" on the main PlaneMath parent/teacher page.

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