The Wright Brothers Project
Title – The Wright Brothers Project
By – Perry Thomas Lopez
I am writing to you in order for me to share my experience with other teachers who might be inspired by project last year. My fifth grade students built a model replica of the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer. The model weighed nearly 75 Lbs. and measured 22 Ft by ten ft. After immersing my students with appropriate literature about the Wright Brothers, I was able to introduce the Science and Mathematical component of the project. For instance, the four forces acting on an airplane and the exact measurements of the original flyer to our replica dimensions. I was a former electrician, M-Mechanic Local 363, and I was able to draw the schematics, mount the airplane by chains and add electrical propellers. I instructed my students to use power tools correctly and responsibly and gave them instruction on the construction step by step. The students decided to paint the airplane red, white, and blue as an Americana type tribute.
My principal, who supported the project from the very beginning, has been my mentor and inspiration for such an undertaking. I preceded with this project as a way to give her and her school recognition for her wonderful leadership and guidance. Any success for this project, in my eyes, was a dedication to her and her generosity.
I converted the classroom into a mini-museum and added a puppet show, printing press, family tree, schematics table, raffle table (Wright Brothers memorabilia),and an assembly line that recreated a small miniature of the replica. My students became the host for other students, district personnel and parents. My proud students performed at their optimal critical thinking levels.
To top this project, I was able to send about two hundred pictures from my portfolio to the FAA. My greatest achievement was recognized by individuals from NASA, who personally wrote to me and my students and encouraged such an undertaking in the NYC Public School System. After receiving this acknowledgement, the 65 man-hours to build such a replica, seemed as though time stood still! I remember working these long hours after school and never thought twice about why I was doing it. The answer was always clear, “for my students!”
Teachers, If you are new within the system and have idealistic qualities about changing a child within a confusing system, stick with these ideas-you can make a difference-or you can ask my students yourself!
Perry Tomas Lopez