Mobile Triggers

Middle School Students Explore Aerodynamics in STEM Workshop

Rudy Brandl

The Middle School offered abbreviated two-day after school STEM workshops focused on aerodynamics in the first two weeks of November. Under the guidance of Mrs. Andrea Barnett, Middle School science teacher and Science Department Co-Chair, pondered the question of how the program could offer a hands-on STEM program that would be safe during the pandemic and accessible to both remote and present learners. The answer came from the sky! 

“Aerodynamics allows us the opportunity to solve problems with simple accessible materials and to be socially distant outside,” Mrs. Barnett said. 

The students worked on two different problems in two-day shifts. On day one they created simple parachutes by learning how to fold paper and create geometric shapes. Using the engineering process, they questioned what variables made the "best" parachutes and were inspired by the work of scientists studying the flight of dandelion seeds. Students at home zoomed in to create with us and then tried their parachutes asynchronously.  

On day two, students learned about the Bernoulli principle to understand what causes lift and folded paper into a diverse array of paper airplanes. The resulting models were a tremendous hit as students flew them to discover which went the farthest. 

“The best parts of each day were the heights we were allowed to go to give our creations greater lift!” Mrs. Barnett said.