The First Four Flights--Math Up!
OverviewThis lesson plan will allow students to understand the path that led to the Wrights' success on December 17, 1903 by relating the stories of their interest in flying from youth, the growing interest in flight in the late 1890s and the flight experiments that led to their first flights in 1903. The story of their dream to fly will be used as a backdrop for students to solve relevant mathematical problems and connect with Wright Brothers National Memorial.
Students will be able to:
- Understand the path that led to the Wrights' first four flights on December 17, 1903
- Relate the stories of the Wright brothers' interest in flying from youth, the growing interest in flight in the late 1890s, and the flight experiments that led to their first flights in 1903
- Solve relevant mathematical problems related to the Wright brothers' flights
Wright Brothers National Memorial commemorates two ingenious brothers from Dayton, OH who, in 1900, choose the sparsely populated area known as the Outer Banks to conduct a series of experiments that three years later resulted in the world's first heavier than air, powered controlled flight. The story of these brothers embodies the American ideal of hard work overcoming all obstacles.
Wilbur and Orville Wright were not just lucky bicycle mechanics, but succeeded because of study and scientific experimentation. Their story is the realization of a dream that had existed for centuries; it is not simply about building the first airplane but rather about how they scientifically solved the problem. It is a story about those who inspired and those who aided the brothers as well as the coastal area of North Carolina before, during, and after the dream came to life.
This lesson will help students understand how the Wright brothers even got to have those famous four flights, and how this changed history forever.
It will use math skills to help students understand how truly amazing the Wrights' feat was.
- Images of the Wright brothers' gliders and 1903 flyer (attached)
- Toy airplane if available
- Image of Penaud Flying Toy (attached)
Download the pdf (see link at top of page)
Find the mean, median, mode, and range for the times of the first four flights.
Find the mean, median, mode, and range for the distances of the first four flights.
Speed = distance÷time; compute the speed in feet per second for the first four flights.
Then adjust each speed to miles per hour by multiplying by 0.681818. This calculates the ground speed of an aircraft (how fast it travels over ground).
Measure out the distance of the first flight (120 ft) in a straight line.
See if students can run this distance faster than the Wrights' first flight (12 seconds).
Students will understand:
- How to find the mean, mode, median, and range of more than three numbers
- How to find the speed of a moving object
- How to multiply and divide numbers found in a word problem
The Wrights' hard work and dedication allowed for four successful flights on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, NC.