School lets teens' aviation dreams take flight

Posted March 6, 2011

Project Education: Edutopia, a partnership between WRAL-TV and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, visits a Seattle high school where students interested in an aviation career are taking flight.

Aviation High School is near Seattle's airport, and science teacher Scott McComb used that as an inspiration for his project for his class full of freshmen.

For six months, students worked in teams of three to design a highly efficient, lightweight wing structure made of paper mache.

"Many of people have an idea of engineering and science as being inaccessible. (Students think) 'I can't do that. I don't know how. It's too big. It requires too much math,'" McComb said.

"In fact," he continued, "it's about diligence. It's about good observations. It's about good teamwork. And these are skills which anybody can learn."

During the final round of testing, several local aeronautical engineers volunteered to analyze the students' inventions.

High school students earn their wings High school students earn their wings

Students included the data and observations from these tests in a presentation to the engineers. They then picked the best design.

The engineer judges said they were impressed by the students and their work.

"They're articulate. They know what they're about. They know what they've learned," said Mike Bonftiz, an engineer with the Federal Aviation Adminstration engineer.

"For ninth graders to pull off something like that is absolutely remarkable."

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  • RGMTRocks Mar 7, 2011

    What an awesome opportunity for these kids! It just goes to show that if you teach them more in-depth curriculum, allow them to explore subjects to a deeper level and apply them to real life....and have faith in them our kids are much smarter and more capable than they're given credit for. Sure, these kids were likely highly motivated students with a particular interest in this field, but the concept of this type of teaching knows no boundries if you just give it thought. This is why I LOVE my kid's CHARTER School that focuses on project-based learning, technology and application of curriculum to real life scenarios. They may not have a program in aviation engineering, but there's a lot of good stuff going on!