8th grade Flight and Space class builds Tetrahedral Kites


Farragut Building Kites

As part of a unit on “Flying Machines,” the 8th grade Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Flight and Space Class recently studied, built, and flew the Tetrahedral Kite, invented by Alexander Graham Bell.

Building-Kites-IMG_3732In 1902 Mr. Bell proved that it was indeed possible to build large flying machines without the increasing weight cost.  Instead of building one large wing, his proof was based on a whole ‘flock’ of small wings in the form of “tetrahedrons”.  Tetrahedrons are a regular 4 sided polygon. Basically a pyramid shaped framework which is the strongest structure known. A tetrahedral kite is formed when you cover two sides of the four sided figure and to join a number of these together into a large tetrahedral kite.

By doing this Mr. Bell was able to prove that you can create a large kite, of any size desired, without any increase in the weight to sail area. You do not need any extra bracing in larger kites and the strong tetrahedral cell is itself fully braced. In fact the more cells you add to a flying machine, the stronger it becomes. This allows tetrahedrals to be built from the lightest materials but still have a strong and sturdy final product. Read more about tetrahedrals.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education are extremely important in today’s school and in preparing our youth for the future.  The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will grow 17 percent by 2018—nearly double the growth for non-STEM fields. By 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs because there will not be enough qualified workers to fill them. STEM is where jobs are today and where the job growth will be in the future.

Admiral Farragut Academy recently became a Certified PLTW School last spring in Engineering. Project Lead The Way is the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs. Through world-class K-12 curriculum, high-quality teacher professional development, and outstanding partnerships, PLTW is helping students develop the skills needed to succeed in the global economy. Read more about PLTW.

Building Kites IMG_3754