Updated On: July 6, 2020

Airplanes

Art & Design

Painting

Toddlers & Children
Paint: Roll airplane wheel in washable paint and paint the runway as the plane takes off and lands.

Theater

Toddlers & Children
Act Out: Play airport! Pretend to be ticket takers, and people loading luggage, and then pilots and cabin crew!

Engineering & Technology

Toddlers & Children
Explore: Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow! What makes a jet engine go? Here are a couple places to start: Learn Engineering, Stanford.

Children & Teenagers
Research: What is the FAA? What safety standards exists for air flight?

Mechanical Engineering

Children
Read: Ultimate Book of Airplanes and Airports lives up to its name and will not disappoint. Be prepared to learn more than you might have thought would be possible to learn about airplane mechanics at a children’s level. Synopsis of the Ultimate series: “The Ultimate series is a worldwide success because it offers readers an intriguing close-up view of their subject with lots of opportunity for hands-on interaction with flaps, tabs, pop-ups, and more!”

Language & Thinking

Vocabulary

Children & Teenagers
Memorize: Weave airplane or flight vocabulary into your conversations with with your learner and help them memorize new terms.

Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Children & Teenagers
Host an Event: After learning about international paper airplane competitions, like this one. Plan and host your own competition with friends or family. Here is some information that might help. And the Red Bull Paper Wings program has an app with videos and information about the competitions that you can find here.

Math

Consumer Math

Children
Compare: Compare air travel to other forms of travel to and from several destinations. What is cheaper? How does the equation change if your whole family is traveling?

Children
Investigate: Is it cheaper to fly places at certain times of the year? Use a tool like Google Flights to compare.

Science

Physics

Children & Teenagers
Discuss: After learning or reviewing the physics principles of flight, compare commercial airplanes with fighter jets and private jets. Discuss what each type of plane is designed to do. Under what scenarios would it make more sense to fly one type of airplane over another?

Children & Teenagers
Experiment: Find the farthest flier! Choose three paper airplane designs you want to use and design a proper experiment to see which travels the farthest. Analyze the different wings, weights, materials, aerodynamics of the different paper airplanes and find explanations for their differing statistics. Be sure to research the scientific method first, here is a good place to start.

Children & Teenagers
Explain: Use an airplane to teach the concepts of lift, drag, thrust, airfoil, and air pressure. This video can reinforce the concepts well. Have your learner explain the concepts back to you afterward.

Social Sciences

Economics

Children & Teenagers
Teach: Do you think people receive a lot of value for a relatively low cost when they fly? Consider the alternatives, if your family wants to take a vacation from where you live to Jamaica, or China, compare other ways to get there, including the cost, time, and challenges of the alternatives. Billions of passengers fly every year in the world. You would think that airlines companies are, therefore, worth many billions of dollars. Actually, they are not. Airlines companies compete for millions of dollars, not billions. This is what the free market does – introduce competition and drive prices down.

History

Children & Teenagers
Watch: The story of the Wright Brothers inventing the first engine-powered airplane is one of the most famous stories of invention in human history. The odds were against them on many levels. There were engineers with more education, money, and career success trying to achieve flight at the same time they were, but these small town mid-west Americans won the race. It is often brought up when learning about innovation or education reform. You can get a taste of it in this 7-minute video featuring David McCullough, but for further study there are documentaries and books on the history.

Children & Teenagers
Watch: The story of Amelia Earhart attempting to fly around the world is one of the most famous stories of courage in human history, because Earhart had only recently completed the feat of being the second person ever (and first woman ever) to fly across the Atlantic Sea. Here is a 5-minute biography video on Amelia Earhart.

Children & Teenagers
Watch: The story of Gail Halvorsen, the “Candy Bomber” is one way to cultivate interest in World War 2 and Cold War history. While Germany was under a temporary multi-national occupation at the end of World War 2 and beginning of the Cold War, American planes flew in and out of West Berlin. Children under Soviet occupation were destitute. Gail Halvorsen became known as the “Candy Bomber” after organizing what would become a multi-decade effort to parachute candy over cities in East Germany. East Berlin received a total of 23 tons of candy over the length of his operation. Here is a 41-minute documentary about it.

Psychology

Children & Teenagers
Research & Consider: Many people are afraid of flying in planes. Compare the risk statistics for different forms of travel to determine if this fear is supported by evidence. What are ways people can feel less anxiety when they fly?

How else might important subject matter be learned from this interest topic? Comment below! Half-baked ideas are more than welcome, too.