Creeds Elementary fifth-graders soared to new heights. They climbed the stairs to the mezzanine at the Military Aviation Museum on Oct. 30 in Pungo and launched their homemade aircraft.
“It’s really fun here!” Gabe McNulty said after he heard the timekeeper say “2.19” – the seconds his paper airplane spent in the air before it landed.
He was pleased, but had estimated the flight to take less time. He constructed the plane’s wings as wide as possible in an effort to increase speed, and maybe next time he’d tape it more securely, and make the front more pointed, he said.
The field trip was part of a partnership between the school and the museum, which is known for having one of the largest private collections of World War I and World War II era military aircraft in the world. About 60 students tested their paper planes – each created to go slow, fast, or travel far.
Rewind to Casey Conger’s drive to work this past summer. Conger, who took the helm as Creeds’ principal this year, noticed the museum each morning.
“I was driving by and I thought – why doesn’t Creeds do anything with the museum?” She investigated the possibility of some type of collaboration.
“We wanted to make sure it was purposeful,” Conger said.
Museum staff members welcomed them with open arms; and early in the school year, an official partnership was signed. The fifth-graders would be consultants for the museum, which meant learning about its history, helping spread the word to others, and participating in a design challenge as part of their study unit on force and motion.
In preparation they visited the museum, examined planes, and chatted with pilots and engineers about aircraft design. Then museum docents dropped by on plane-making day to offer advice and expertise.
The test day was the culmination of lots of hard work.
Excitement was in the air as the clipboard-holding kids in their official lime-green adviser T-shirts marched off the school buses and into the museum hangar. Director Mike Potter watched in awe as they tested their creations one at a time. The long-term partnership will be mutually beneficially for both the museum and the school, he said.
“These kids live in our own backyard,” Potter said. “We both want to gain something.”
Students are learning firsthand about science, technology, engineering, and math – essential on the Standards of Learning checklist, he noted. And the museum will reap the benefits of hopefully having more visitors, especially local residents. He asked how many had already visited the museum during the group’s first visit.
“About 90 percent didn’t raise their hand,” he said.
The students will return soon with a multimedia presentation full of marketing suggestions. The local advertising agency BCF heard about the joint venture – and has volunteered their services to school.
Joe Badali and Skip Johnson are retired school administrators and volunteer as docents at the museum.
“It’s neat seeing kids engaged,” Johnson said. They hope the unique learning experience will spread to other schools.
“Hopefully it will snowball,” Badali said. “There’s a lot of history here, and science, and math, and more.”
Cindy Butler Focke, email@example.com