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Aviation Math Command Station


CAD Unit Description

English Unit Description

Library Unit Description

Math Unit Description

CAD Scenario

English Scenario

Library Scenario

Math Scenario

Student Timeline **

Document Rubrics **

Multimedia Rubric **

Presentation Rubrics **

**To return to staff pages, backspace on toolbar in Web browser.

Preflight Briefing

The Aviation Project requires the students to discover and understand what an aviation academy looks like. It is up to the students to decide what high school subject areas and courses need to be offered to cover the key aspects of the aviation field. There are six subject areas involved in helping students find their way through the project: CAD, careers, English, history, math, and science. There are four components to the project: the research, the printed document, the multimedia presentation, and the board presentation. Each discipline covers a piece of each component. The teacher in each subject area guides the students to think about a discipline and how it relates to aviation.

Six classes of students are invited to a formal setting by invitation only. Ideally, the students in these six classes share the six core teachers of this project, but that arrangement is not necessary for the project to succeed. (For example, one student out of the six classes is enrolled in only one class involved in the project, while another student is enrolled intwo or more of the project classes). At the presentation, the students are asked to think about the question "What does an Aviation Academy look like?" Speakers from the school district explain the school communities' desire for this academy and how the students can help the school board make its final decision regarding the validity of such an academy. The speaker also shares a recent related newspaper article with the assembly of students.

Dreams of Flight:

Summary of message from school board: The high school has the opportunity to create and implement an aviation academy that will be a curricular path for students to explore opportunities in the field of aviation. The board will approve funding of the aviation curricular path if the school community -staff, students, and parents- can convince them that all disciplines will be included in the academy; that the academy will offer a rigorous curriculum that meets the University of California A-F requirements; and that they will be able to create enough interest in the academy that enrollment will be filled by students who are excited to choose this path.

Flight Plan

Six classes of students are invited to a formal meeting by invitation only to discuss the question "What does an aviation academy look like? Speakers from the district explain the communities' request for this academy and how the students can help. A spokesman for the teacher team concludes by giving an overview of how each component is accomplished through each class. Next, the students review the district proposal and prepare for liftoff of the project. Students discuss how to approach the investigation. The class agrees that math seems a logical fit with aviation. They also suggest inviting a pilot to the class to share his/her experiences and duties, especially those related to math. They also determine that email will be the most efficient and quickest way to communicate with pilots who might be willing to come to the classroom to speak. A group of students volunteer to locate the email addresses of potential speakers. Another group of students create an invitation that they will email. Knowing that some time may pass before the speaker is able to visit the classroom, a student suggests that they send out the basic information of their investigation to other professionals in the field of aviation. They decide to contact the instructor of the aviation technical program at the local community college and the aviation mechanics division at a commercial airline in a nearby city. The students create a list of questions that they ask the professionals to respond to via email. The questions they brainstorm center around the focus question about math in aviation. Once they have set up these communications, the teacher re-introduces the aviation question to her class--"What does an aviation academy look like?" Students break into groups of no more than four to develop questions that are crucial to this investigation. Each group determines individual roles in the group and come up with the grid shown below.

Flight Team # Team Name:
Pilot (Spokesperson)  
Co-pilot (PowerPoint-graphics facilitator)  
Navigator (Internet Searches & Copyright)  
Steward/Stewardess (Publisher-brochure)  

Aviation Questions:




  1. Students who have any of the listed skills print their name on one sheet under one category they feel qualified.
  2. Students who do not sign up, but have a desire to learn that skill sign up on one sheet under one category of interest.
  3. Students who do not sign up pick the group they would like to work with and sign their name in one of the categories that most fits their skill or interest.

The next several minutes, the student groups brainstorm questions related to math in aviation and record them using Inspiration software. The last part of the class is spent sharing those questions with other groups. Just before the end of class, the teacher directs students to their first assignment on the Student Flight Plan webpage: research.

The students agree that each student may receive a one hour training workshop related to his position. The training is offered after school on a designated day. Notification of the date is sent by email to an account set up by a few students in the class. After being trained, each team member has the responsibility to share that information with the team. The students also discuss and agree that any team member who does not do his part may be selected off the team by the other team members by filling out the Rejection Form on the Student Flight Plan webpage and by teacher approval.


As students work through the process, they design a timeline based upon what they determine to be the questions that need to be answered and the projected length of time for the development of the final task. The class also designs rubrics to critique each component that they will be creating. Students have opportunities to edit their work for final approval and possible selection for district review.

The students agree to keep a student designed flight log with essential information needed to complete their projects. A few students who have designed web pages, decide that they will keep a log on a simple web page that the class can refer to when needed. Those same students also agree to set up generic email accounts. Taking into consideration that some of the students working on the aviation project in another class will already have an account set up in that class, they agree to coordinate with the other classes involved in the project so that each student will have only one account for the project.

Take/Off (Class Introduction after District Introduction):

The teacher plans an activity for the students for the day that the pilot agrees to speak to the class.

Students revisit what they learn at the district meeting. They are asked to imagine if they are business people going to an important aviation meeting, what items would they need to be successful at that meeting. Students keep a journal or a flight log with all vital information they collect on the way. They design a geometric flight ticket for entrance into this project. Students come the following day prepared to take a flight to Chicago for such a meeting with flight ticket and notebook in hand.

Students are met at the door by a flight attendant who takes their tickets and directs them to their seat. Any student forgetting his ticket is asked to sit in cargo in the back of the room on the floor.

At the bell, the flight attendant goes over flight procedures (emergency exits, airbags, safety procedures, etc.). Students are asked to buckle their seat belts (paper ones will be attached to each seat) and put their chairs in an upright position. All luggage or notebooks must be placed under the seat for safe keeping. A short film of the plane is shown to demonstrate take off. After the plane is in the air, the flight attendant announces that students may take off their seat belts and wait for refreshments. She then hands out small bags of peanuts.

After refreshment time, the flight attendant introduces the visiting pilot to the class. The pilot, dressed in uniform, introduces himself to the class and proceeds to share information about aviation and his job as related to math. When the pilot finishes, the students ask questions.

The flight attendant directs students to fasten their seat belts and prepare for landing. A short film is shown of the landing. The flight attendant thanks the students for coming and turns the time over to the teacher for some final departure instructions.The students go the Student Flight Plan webpage for more information.

The teacher returns the students' flight tickets which they add to their log. Students begin the rest of their investigation of the question.


Students follow the Student Flight Plan as directed on the Aviation Webpage. Students do their own research, written documents, and multimedia presentations outside of class. They present their findings, written documents, and multimedia presentations to the class for review using the rubrics that they have created. The teacher monitors, gives feedback, and evaluates each component at each stage. Students take the opportunity to refine their work before final evaluation from the teacher and selection of one written document and one multimedia presentation for the district presentation. The teacher continues his/her math curriculum by incorporating the student discovered aviation math concepts. The students learn about lift, wing span, elevations, vectors, and other aviation tools. Students design and build paper planes, kites, airport structures, etc.to demonstrate the math concepts they have discovered in their investigation.

For example, students learn about airplane terminology, share their findings and build a paper airplane to demonstrate their understanding. The students plan a contest for height, distance, and speed to encourage the students to do their homework.

The students design badges and ask the teacher to award for each mini class project (research, written document, multimedia presentation, plane construction, etc.) they complete. If a student collects nine out of ten projects, she earns her pilot's license.


After the math components of the project are completed the students send a copy of the class selected written document to the aviation project English class for those students to edit and add to the district booklet. They send a class selected multimedia presentation to the CAD class for students to edit and add to the district presentation. Using student created rubrics the groups assess their individual research papers, final group components (written document and multimedia presentation) in the classroom, and their district presentation report. They submit the evaulations to the teacher.

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Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s): Carla Decker (vhscdecker@hotmail.com)
School: Vallejo High, CA
Created: February 15, 2001 - Updated: December 28, 2002
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/aviation/mathscenario.htm