from Come Fly With Me – Exploring Science through aviation and aerospace concepts.

SUBJECT: Science
GRADE: 7,8,9
TIME: 2 or 3-45 minute periods and a day for the trip
TEACHING STRATEGY: Open Discovery Guided Discovery
CONCEPTS: Aeronautics Airport Air Traffic Control
SKILLS: Observation Recording Data Questioning Reading for Information
Objectives: To understand the various aspects of an airport; to relate studies of aerodynamics to real situations.

Materials: Film, film strips, photographs; books and pamphlets on the airport; model airplanes, gliders, etc.
Teacher Background Information: Prior to an airport field trip, several things ought to be covered. Students should have a basic understanding of at least: – How an airplane flies – what the parts of an airplane are – what safety precautions must be taken around airports – what to expect at the specific airport they will be visiting. It is not difficult to motivate students for a trip like this; but, it can be hard to keep them focused on some of the things it is important for them to learn while they have such fun doing it.

  1. Do as many of the activities from the COME FLY WITH ME materials as are appropriate to your particular objectives.
  2. Bring in resource people to talk with students: pilots, weather people, model aircraft builders, etc.
  3. Plan the airport trip with the students. Discuss their past experiences with airports. What did they notice? Have they been to little, middle or large size airports? Similarities? Differences?
  4. Explain which airport they will be visiting. List on the chalkboard what they can expect to see. Your list may have such things as:
    * People working at many jobs
    * Airplanes–large and small – Different parts of the airplane – An instrument panel
    * A hanger
    * A control tower
    * Runways
    * The terminal
  5. Formulate questions they feel can be answered by a trip to the airport. Write them on the chalkboard and, later, make a copy for each student to take with them. Encourage each student to add questions to the list throughout the days before the trip.
  6. Arrange for any committees you will need: transportation to the airport; photography; fee collectors; fund-raising; snack for the bus ride–whatever is necessary to make the trip both possible and enjoyable.
  7. Get permission slips taken care of.
  8. Go. Enjoy.
  9. Follow up. Have students verbally share their experiences and the answers they found to their list of questions. Ask them to focus on a specific part of the trip and write about it. Make a class collage of pictures and words that depicts the trip. If there are people who need to be thanked, write thank you notes.


An aerial field trip. This is more involved and demands a lot of planning. It will also be more costly for students since flight time costs money. You and the class may have to engage in some pretty creative problem solving in order to devise ways to defray some of the costs. However, giving the students the chance to fly in a small plane, at slower speeds and with an unimpeded view of the terrain, will provide them with the opportunity to see area relationships and orientations that cannot be observed from the ground. Even a half-hour aerial study is well worth the time, effort and cost involved.

Much of what one plans for an airport field trip would be applicable here. In addition, arrangements have to be made for pilots, planes and a specific flight path to cover. Also, some time should be spent discussing appropriate conduct in a small plane and what students can expect to feel, see and hear.

This aerial field trip can be part of the airport field trip or a separate trip of its own. Either way, it is a valuable educational experience and as a culminating activity to a geological study of your area, it is unsurpassed.

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