Information for Teachers and Parents Back to Wing Shape

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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 Wing Shape Department students continue their exploration and learning about wings. First, simple geometric shapes and area formulas are reviewed: parallel lines, angles, quadrilaterals, triangles, rectangles and trapezoids. As a follow up to airfoils students learn to calculate the wingspan, chord, area and aspect ratio of a wing. The students then learn how these values are related to the lift produced by the wing. Students learn about different wing shapes and how to calculate chord length and aspect ratio for those wings. A final activity allows students to change the wingspan and average chord length to obtain a specified wing area.

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

VII. Aeronautics Content

VIII. Prerequisite Skills

IX. Vocabulary

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

X. Materials

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. There are several good breaking places in this lesson--right before wing shape, lift and drag and before the wing design activity toward the end. Students who are unable to write can provide verbal input on project or make choices during activity.

XII. Additional Activities

1. Students visit an airplane museum, airport or an online site that shows airplanes. Have students draw all the different types of wing shapes and categorize them according to similarities.

2. Assign a different type plane to each group of 4-5 students in your room. Make sure the planes all have different wing shapes. Have students do research on the function of the planes and then report on why the planes have those particular wing shapes, aspect ratios, etc. related to the function of the plane (how high, how fast, what it does)

3. The wingshape of a plane is the shape of the wings visible from directly above or below it. What are the shapes of other objects from directly above? (i.e. cars, furniture, people) Draw a map of your classroom, home or neighborhood as it would appear from directly above. (See also "Birds Eye View" lesson from 4th grade Applying Flying.)

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 wing shape design activity, are accessible through both the keyboard and the mouse. Students can use the spacebar to cycle through all the options in the design activity, which will be highlighted by a small yellow bar. If the option toggles through different choices, students can use the up and down arrow keys to move through the choices. If the option is a button, students press Return or Enter to select that 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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