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Curriculum UPDATE

Schools Take Flight for Centennial

With the centennial of the Wright brothers' first powered flight coming up in December 2003, many educators are looking to inject flight into their lessons. From complete curricula to workshops and grants, a number of crosscurricular resources are available to prepare teachers and administrators.

Coming out of Dayton, Ohio, is the Inventing Flight curriculum. "Students study the physical science of control, lift and power" while learning about the history of flight, says Dave Frech of ThinkTV: Greater Dayton Public Television, the producer of the curriculum. The curriculum uses video, DVD multimedia exercises and online activities to teach middle- grade students the physical science, historical basis and problemsolving skills that were necessary for humans to take to the air.

"The Wright brothers took a different approach from their contemporaries when learning to fly," says William Roess, COO of Inventing Flight. "We believe that this curriculum not only allows students the opportunity to explore the concepts behind powered flight, but also the ingenuity behind the discovery." Roess says he expects the lessons to "have a shelf life of five to 10 years."

The curriculum is being distributed free to all school districts in Ohio, and districts elsewhere can purchase it for $295.

Of course, when one thinks of flight, one thinks of NASA. And NASA is also bringing flight education to the middle grades. Through each of its 10 centers, NASA offers special summer workshops for educators. The workshops, whose participants range from teachers to superintendents, are free to educators.

Participants learn how to infuse flight education across their curriculum, explains Bill Williams of NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. "There is a heavy emphasis on problem solving," he says. Typical problems involve aeronautics, flight and design, and they lend themselves most directly to math, science, geography and technology. The topics have also been used in social studies and language arts classes, he says.

For educators who have discovered their own innovative ways to integrate aerospace education into their existing curriculum, the Aerospace Education Foundation, based in Arlington, Va., offers a series of $250 grants for educators at all grade levels. Ann Sagle, manager of contributions and special programs, says that a number of grants will be available for educators who want to focus on the centennial of flight. The application deadline for 2003 grants is Nov. 15. -Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti