About This Lesson
This lesson is based on National Park Service materials, including the National Register of HIstoric Places file on the Wright Brothers National Memorial (with photographs), and other sources related to the Wright brothers. The lesson plan was sponsored by the National Historic Landmarks Program as part of its Aviation Heritage theme study. This study was conducted in partnership with the United States Air Force Academy through a Cooperative Agreement with the organization of American Historians. The lesson plan was written by Brenda K. Olio, former Teaching with Historic Places staff member. The lesson was edited by staff at the Wright Brothers National Memorial and the Teaching with Historic Places program. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in American history, social studies, and geography courses in units on technological and scientific advances at the turn of the 20th century, aviation history, or great inventors. It also could be used in a unit commemorating the anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight on December 17, 1903.
Time period: Early 20th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To describe the status of human flight experiments at the turn of the 20th century.
2) To determine why the Wright brothers chose the Outer Banks of North Carolina to conduct their flight experiments and how conditions in this region impacted their efforts.
3) To describe the challenges faced by the Wright brothers during their flight experiments and how they overcame them to achieve controlled powered flight on December 17, 1903.
4) To examine how the Wright brothers' historic accomplishments at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina have been commemorated.
5) To research efforts to commemorate important people and events in their own community.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps showing the Outer Banks of North Carolina;
2) three readings about the Wright brothers' quest to achieve controlled powered flight;
3) an excerpt from Orville Wright's December 17, 1903, diary entry;
4) seven photographs of the Wright brothers' gliders, the 1903 Flyer, their camp at Kill Devil Hills, and the site today.
Visiting the site
Wright Brothers National Memorial, administered by the National Park Service, is located in the town of Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The park's entrance is between mileposts 7 and 8 on U.S. 158, about midway between Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. The park is open daily during the summer from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the rest of the year. The park is closed December 25. For more information, contact the Superintendent, Cape Hatteras Group, 1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, North Carolina, 27954 or visit the park's web site.