Exploring Science                                                Being A Scientist                                   Exploration 1

©Copyright 1997, Macro Press                                                               3                                                                                        Being A Scientist

For our purposes, we will define successful as flying for distance ALONG SELECTED STRAIGHT LINE PATH only. The Following Explorations will do much more, but we want to take a slow start, just like scientists do. We need just a few identical tests to see if the plane will perform the same each time. Later this year, you will be designing tests, but this one we will do together.

Assign teams of four. If your class includes Students with Disabilities, divide them among the teams to provide guidance and support. Pass out ER-1, Flight Test. The report page being passed out will be filled out during the Exploration. It is the type that all scientists keep in their SCIENTIST'S NOTEBOOK. A scientist always lists all of the test conditions that you see on the report so that others can duplicate your tests.

In this case, the team will test the RM-1 plane built by two members and the RM-2 from the other two members. Write down this information clearly. Note distinguishing characteristics, such as shape and condition, Jose NW (narrow wing) or Bill BW (broad wing).

Scientists perform the same test a number of times and compare the results. For this Exploration, each team member will fly the four selected planes. Each team member will keep a record of the distance traveled by the plane for each run by all team members. Round all distances to the nearest foot.

Place the following data collection chart on the board  an example


As flight time approaches, assure the students with, We are learning how to conduct a test, not who can follow the plane pattern best. A test that shows why one plane performs poorly compared to another is just one step toward having an excellent test and a better plane next time. Edison's tests usually did not work - he kept trying. He also kept records of what did not work and, if he knew, why. Increasing understanding will add to the fun.

Encourage students to carefully bring all of the necessary materials with them. Let the Teams set up their testing stations and try their own planes. There will be a lot of excitement about this event. (You may wish to have someone video tape it. A parent with a camera could be a real positive. This may be the tape you want to share at Back to School Night. Be sure scientific principles are emphasized if you do.) An extra set of hands or two is helpful, but the students should be able to manage.


     It is important to model both the launching of the planes and the use of the measuring tool prior to the flight tests. Each student should have at least three throws before the real test. This will prevent endless confusion at the test sites.

 Using rounding and feet, instead of meters, will also help., instead of meters, will also help.


Leave the average figure until reaching section 4: On The Ground. Discuss only the data gathering here.