Magenta Visit to the Hiller Aviation Museum

Field Trip Blog, Part II

Last Thursday, in the afternoon, the Magenta Band went to visit the Hiller Aviation Museum. We saw all of the museum exhibits and also completed an hour-long flight simulation program. Below are pictures from this part of the field trip and students’ descriptions of their afternoon experiences.

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From Max Mercier: Walking into the Hiller Aviation Museum, if you love planes, is like walking through the gates of heaven. There are full-size planes and scale models everywhere, and it’s suffocating in the best way possible. Helicopters, jetpacks, parts of airliners, stunt planes, drones, they have it all. But by far my favorite thing about the Hiller Aviation Museum are the simulators. Aside from their main educational simulator, they have a Boeing 777 simulator, which you use to attempt a landing at SFO. I sat down in the comfortable leather chair, put my hand on the throttle and grabbed the yoke. Immediately I noticed just how sensitive the 777-300 really is. Even touching the yoke too forcefully caused a noticeable change in heading. I rose up to a higher altitude, flew over downtown Millbrae, and got myself lined up for final approach. At this point, I had three people gathered around me, saying things like “You’re not gonna make it!” and “You’re too far left!” But I kept my going. I pulled back the throttle, brought the plane to an airspeed of 170 knots, lowered my flaps down to 30 degrees, and held it steady as the runway got closer and closer. I finally brought the throttle all the way down, lifted the nose up, and set my back wheels on the runway perfectly. It was at this point where I questioned if music is what I should be focusing on right now—that landing was not too shabby.

From Ian: It was a cloudy day, and we were rushed up the stairs onto the cold metal bleachers. The instructor waved his model airplane frantically about, describing the dangers of flight. He described his stories of past pilots who had crashed flying inverted and sharing the controls with friends. Abruptly he stopped the discussion to explain how you “can’t fly like James Bond.” Gripping the controls with both hands, he gave a demonstration wagging them back and forth with a smug look on his face. Then, gripping them with one hand and another hand over the throttle and mixture controls, he proclaimed: “This is the correct way to fly!” With this, the conversation was over, and we were instructed to grab “flying buddies.” I grabbed my comrade Aidan, and we were hustled over to the cockpits. Starting the flight, Aidan flew gracefully in the air but, lacking the speedy decision making of a real pilot, he handed the controls over to me. After a short time, we immediately descended into a dive with me at the controls. We flew inverted after a short time. We heard a rattle from the engine, and we were stalling. Drifting towards the ground, I pulled back and recovered gracefully.
The instructor then grounded the aircraft, exclaiming that he would “never fly with us at the wheel.” Aidan got out of his seat in a sluggish fashion, clearly angry about my flying technique. “Back to the bleachers!” the instructor yelled about how the plane had to be “one inch from the runway and the dashboard of the plane,” and no more than “70 knots.” Then we went back into the air. Now at a course to land at the runway, Aidan was not listening to the instructor and disobeying the 1-inch command. At a course faster than 70 knots, he started his landing not center on the line. He touched down, skipping the white line and careened toward the side of the runway. We changed seats, and I was instructed to land at the runway. With graceful maneuvers, I moved from side to side to meet the white line. As I touched down on the line and turned off the engine, my task was complete.
sFor a final time we met at the bleachers, the instructor describing what he called a “bonus ride.” This ride went past the Bay Bridge and over Alcatraz and then under the Golden Gate. The flight was short, and back on the ground, he giddily pronounced us real pilots.

From Max Mayman: As Cory stared out the cockpit, a single drop of sweat fell from his chin onto the yoke. The rumble of the Cessna 172 was loud in his ear along with the radio he held next to him. As I watched Cory, I became the commentator: “We now see Cory approaching the landing strip… We have seen a very overly aggressive approach to the previous landing strips in other tournaments, but, this being the finals, we have to see if he will still make this mistake.” In his head, he repeated “70-1,” “70-1.” This was the line that Cory’s instructor had told him before the flight. “You must stay at 70 mph at all times when approaching the landing strip, and you see one inch under the runway in order to land safely.” His instructor’s words echoed in his brain as he closed his eyes. Pushing the yoke down, Cory started to descend. The rumble of the plane shook the insides of the plane around. Cory lowered his speed as the Cessna’s wheels touched the ground. He did it! In celebrations, Cory put on the throttle and started doing doughnuts. This was a monumental day for Cory.

From Cassandra: At the Hiller Aviation Museum, there are models of some of the Wright Brothers’ planes. One of these planes, built of white cloth and wood like the original, sits directly above the entrance hall. Inside there are mostly younger planes, along with a few old gliders. But next to a model flown by a motorcycle racer just a few years after the Wright Brothers, there’s an alcove with three televisions and an airplane simulator. There are no modern controllers, just two sticks attached to a black box. It was, after all, the world’s first airplane. The plane started out in the air over an unrecognizable city, farther up than the real version ever went. As I flew over skyscrapers and CGI landscapes, a few things were obvious about this early airplane. Seeing something in the distance, to my left, I tried to turn the plane towards it. To my surprise, the plane barely moved. On my second try, the plane moved far enough for the plane to be on my right, and almost tipped over. I S-curved over to the tower, failingly attempting to get towards it. I missed by over a mile, but right in front of me I saw something blue. I did not know what it was, and I still do not. The blue building, low and flat just over the hill, seemed far more interesting than the bland buildings behind me. It was only then that I realized that I was falling. At first, I had been high over the tops of the buildings, but when I skirted past the tower I was half way down. There simply wasn’t enough altitude to get over that hill, and see whatever CGI creation waited in that blue building. I attempted to pull up, before releasing the final failure of the world’s first airplane. It could not fly up. I crashed into a tree, and the simulation reset.

From Josh: After exploring the Hiller Aviation Museum, as a group we were led into the Restoration Shop part of the building. Imagine a workshop with pieces of wood and metal, some in the shape of airplane wings and tails, and some just in long sheets; saws of all sorts standing around in parts of the large, but cramped space; filing cabinets with small metal nuts, bolts, screws and nails along with others that I have yet to know the name of. Milling around or a few 50-60-year-old guys, conversing about planes and enjoying themselves to their heart’s content while rebuilding and restoring planes.

From Justin: This Thursday we went to the Hiller Aviation Museum. At the Hiller Aviation Museum, we got to experience a flight simulator. We went through an introduction to flying planes, then got to fly them ourselves. My partner Ally challenged me to do flips in the plane. I accepted the challenge and pushed the right rudder and moved the wheel to the right and started the spin. The plane started to spiral downwards; then, as I got close to the water, I stepped off the rudder. I skimmed across the water and straightened the plane out. Ally attempted to spin twice and crashed both times. This was the best part of the Hiller Aviation Museum for me.

From Malia: Ever wanted to run around in a plane without being handcuffed by the flight attendants? Ever wanted to see what the cockpit of an airplane was like in the 70s? When walking into the Boeing 747-100, I saw empty seats with out of date blue red and white stripes. The seats were much bigger with more cushioning than the slim ones there are now. There were only four seats per row, unlike the packed planes trying to fit as many seats in one row as possible. The exhibit is only the front of the plane, so this could be due to first class. The personal screens on every seat back were nonexistent.

From Cory: Yesterday we went on a field trip. I love obvious sentences. The field trip was really fun. Did I mention that I love obvious sentences? All memes aside, it really was a quite enjoyable and educational experience. The part that made the biggest impression on me was when we arrived at the Hiller Aviation Museum. The museum had all sorts of really awesome exhibits, and we even did a really cool flight simulation program, so I’m pretty much an expert pilot at this point. Feel free to hire me. The coolest thing at the museum in my opinion was a huge screen that had Google Earth showing on it. It had the whole Earth globe, and you could use this controller to fly around and zoom in on places. I found the United States on the world globe, and zoomed in until I found San Francisco. From there I was able to find Redwood City, where I live, and I was able to spot Sequoia High School by looking for their sports field. I pass by that school on my bike route every morning, so I was able to trace the roads back to my house. It was really amazing, being able to zoom in and see my house, and my backyard, and my patio and chicken coop, and know that I got there just by zooming in from space. So this means that if I was flying around in space, I could find my house without too much trouble. I think that’s pretty crazy. Not just pretty crazy. That’s amazing! The whole trip was really awesome, and I learned a lot from the wind tunnel and Hiller as well.

Next field trip: Ropes Course next Monday!

Magenta Visit to the NASA Ames Wind Tunnel

Field Trip Blog, Part I

On Thursday, Magenta Band went to visit the NASA wind tunnel. We were lucky to have a connection there, and Chris Hartley, an engineer at the tunnel, gave us a tour of the Wind Tunnel. Below are pictures from our field trip as well as some student reactions.

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From Evan: The wind tunnel was one of the largest enclosed spaces I had ever seen. A football field on its side is about how large the air intake is. So naturally I had to get a picture. So I ran into the corner of the wind tunnel to give a sense of scale. But when I ran over there, I remembered that our tour guide said that I had sound/vibration dampening built in the tunnel. I thought that since it’s so large and made out of hard materials, it must echo. So, to test it, I clapped. Now I did hear an echo but it didn’t sound like a clap. It sounded like a cartoon laser gun. When Cory and I heard it (us being 5-year-olds) we had to have a finger gun laser fight in the largest wind tunnel in the world.

From Jack: This last Thursday, the Magenta band went on an awesome field trip to the NASA Ames Research Center, where we got a tour of the largest wind tunnel in the world, the 80 by 120 foot wind tunnel. It was amazing. The wind tunnel is absolutely huge, You walk into the test chamber (which is just a small part of the whole wind tunnel) and are just shocked by the sheer size of the room. Adjacent to the side where you enter, there is a huge set of doors that open to allow a 75-ton crane on rollers to bring the model in. If you look to your left while facing the huge doors, you will see the tunnel will widen on all sides, including the floor. This looks extremely surreal; the floor changes from solid grating to a softer material. Because they didn’t want people walking on the softer material, there was a very narrow piece of steel that you had to walk on. The slope was so steep that if you were at the top you couldn’t see the people at the bottom. The facility in all was awesome.

From Harry: Yesterday, our class went to the NASA Ames Research Center to see the world’s largest wind tunnel. I don’t think anyone knew what we were expecting, so it was all the more shocking how colossal it was. From the outside, it looked big enough, but somehow it seemed even bigger from the inside. It was kind of humbling how massive it was, and made me think about humanity’s will to create. Seeing that places so monumental can be made by man was astonishing. It was also amazing how much goes into each test of anything. For example, the minimum prep time for anything is 8 weeks, and every test runs for about 4 months.

From Zoe: When going on a field trip you never know what to expect. I don’t think I ever could’ve predicted some of the amazing things I saw. One memory that truly sticks out was walking into the wind tunnel. When we walked in, my mouth flew wide open. I remember looking around in amazement at the sheer size of the place. I felt like a grain of sand at the beach. It is hard to find the right words to describe the feeling you get when you are in that wind tunnel. I felt like a spec of dust compared to the structure surrounding me. As we walked on the metal flooring, towards the other side of the wind tunnel, it looked as if we were at the edge of the world. It seemed as if we were about to walk off the edge into the abyss. I don’t remember speaking much, just silently taking in my surroundings. But it wasn’t just the size that was impressive; the power that the wind tunnel had was hard to comprehend. When the machine is turned on, the output of wind is so strong that they have to divert planes so none will crash. I never thought air could be so powerful. It puts everything into perspective when you see the amount of energy the wind tunnel uses. The power the propellers use is the same amount of energy as the town of Mountain View. The size and power of this machine was the thing that really stuck with me the most. Seeing the world’s largest wind tunnel made everything else seem so much smaller.

From Aidan:

Aidan asked many great questions during our tour. Here is his memory about some of those:

Aidan: Can you give an example of an aircraft that you have helped test in the large wind tunnel?
Chris: Yes, We recently tested an experimental helicopter not yet in production. It had a new technology on it that was supposed to help dampen vibrations from the rotors.
Aidan: What was that new technology?
Chris: The helicopter had carbon fiber blades and a thing that blew air back into the rotors.

Chris: We recently tested the placement of a radar pod on a production sub-hunter aircraft for the navy.
Aidan: What was the aircraft?
Chris: It was a P-8 Poseidon.

Aidan: Are the engines in the wind tunnel brushed or brushless?
Chris: They are large brushless motors.

Aidan: Does the shape of an aerofoil or does the angle of attack generally create more lift?
Chris: An aerofoil will generally create more lift in the long term, but adjusting the angle of attack will create more lift faster. A fast airplane will have a very thin aerofoil and rely more on angle of attack, and a slow plane will have a very thick aerofoil.

Aidan: Does the V-22 Osprey use its variable pitch props to adjust throttle when in fixed wing mode?
Chris: The pilot often uses both the pitch and the fuel valves to control thrust.

We are grateful to Chris Hartley for this opportunity to visit the Wind Tunnel during our By Air Arc!

In the afternoon of the same day, we went to the Hiller Aviation Museum, and Part II of our blog will be posted shortly about the museum and the flight simulation we did, as well as a much smaller wind tunnel that we saw.

A Digression Into Parachutes

When I reflect on this past week in the Blue Band a line from our read aloud The Twenty-One Balloons comes to mind.  William Pene du Bois is explaining why ballooning is the best mode of travel.  He says,

“In a balloon you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop.  The rest is left entirely to nature.  How fast you will go and where is left to the winds.  It is a wonderful way to travel.”

As a collaborator I strive always to be a balloonist.  I know our starting point and usually have a good idea of where we will end up, but I like to let the winds of opportunity and students’ interest to carry us to new territory.  This week our band got carried away with parachutes!


Last week Piper and I introduced a new project.  The Yellow and Blue bands are sending a helium balloon into the stratosphere to take pictures of the earth from the edge of space.  This is a complex and exciting project!  One of the most important problems that the kids need to solve is how to protect our equipment as it plummets down to earth from space.  So we gave them the good ole egg drop challenge!


Each team was given an egg and asked to design a container that would protect their egg from a 61 foot fall.  Here we are on the roof measuring just how high we would be dropping our eggs from!


In the Blue band every single design included a parachute.


Every single design was successful!  Look at the glee on these kids’ faces!  What a great day!


It was interesting to see how everyone converged on a parachute design so I invited my friend John, a sky diver, to come and talk to us about his parachute.


He walked us through the physics and felt experience of sky diving as we watched footage of his jumps.  The Blue band was brimming with questions.  Some of my favorites included: “Are you scared when you jump out of the plane?”, “Has an animal ever sky dived?” and “Does the wind feel like a massage on your stomach as you fall?”


John explained to us that each square foot of parachute equals just about 1 pound of drag.  We laid out his parachute and tried to figure out how much he weighs by finding the area of the parachute.  It was a big multiplication problem because we were working with large dimensions.  So we tackled it as a group looking at different strategies to break down and rebuild the problem to make it easier.


I can’t pass up an opportunity to make a connection between math and the world so the following morning I gave them a parachute math provocation.  Each person got a piece of paper with all sorts of different creatures that wanted to go skydiving, like penguins (22 lbs), grandmas (120lbs), and pineapples (8 lbs). They had to use the base ten blocks to build parachutes for these creatures.   They were finding factors by creating arrays which modeled multiplication problems and having fun while doing it!  Tamasen and Sadie asked if we could do this same problem again the following day!


I want my students to be able to go their own pace and make their own discoveries.  So I am always looking for problems that can accommodate all sorts of discoveries.  This one really caught everyone’s imagination.  Gita discovered that there are multiple ways to build a parachute. “Two fourteens and four sevens are the same number!”   Ronan shared with everyone, “I’ve found a hack!  You just have to multiply the number by itself!”   Tamasen, Sadie and Lily each made the discovery that a parachute was a multiplication problem.


From egg drops to sky diving to parachute multiplication it has been such a rich and inspiring week.  Traveling on the winds of our curiosity the Blue band has drifted into some interesting new territories.  Next week we will be refocusing on our weather balloon launch!

A few of our favorite things

Welcome to week four everyone! The Red band is at the helm this week authoring our blog as we learn about the writing process. We started with a lesson on captions: the words that talk about the picture #kiddictionary. Each kiddo chose one or two pictures from our week to caption and add to their journal. Enjoy!


MEZRiNG ALBUTZHROZiZ WiNZ /Dash “Measuring albatross wings”




Me aD ROOn MaF/ Khalilah “Me and Ronin doing math”


“Dash drawing wings with Nathan.”/ Sylvester


me and may are reading. /Ronin






“Here I am writing the word bird like Khalilah. After I drew a great big bird.”/ Quinn

Taking on a Second Iteration, Mathing it Up, Persuading Others, and the Bridge

After the success of the first iteration of their tetrahedral kite, the Teal Band decided to move forward with a second iteration. On Monday, they reflected on their experiences making and flying the kite and the construction of the kite itself. After brainstorming successes and challenges, they came up with a number of next steps to improve on the kite’s design and construction.

Teal Band reflected on the first iteration of their tetrahedral kite in preparation for their second iteration.

Teal Band reflected on the first iteration of their tetrahedral kite in preparation for their second iteration.

Exploring a new way to construct the tetrahedrons with stronger vertex corners by eliminating the string all together.

Exploring a new way to construct the tetrahedrons with stronger vertex corners by eliminating the string all together.

While reading Math Curse by Jon Sciezska the previous week, we stumbled upon a math problem we wanted to solve: How much would it cost to measure the length of the Mississippi River in M&Ms? They had already found that it would take 400 million M&Ms to measure, but how much do 400 million M&Ms cost. They were pretty certain that not all bags of M&Ms contained the same number, so they settled on counting 6 bags and taking an average. After work around averages, some major long division, and multiplication, they figured out that it would cost $9,381,817.83 to buy enough M&Ms at regular price or $3,636,363,50 at the sale price we bought them at. We decided against actually measuring it and saving those millions for a new building for Brightworks.

After reading Math Curse last week, the Teal Band wanted to figure out how much it would cost to measure the length of the Mississippi River in M&Ms.

After reading Math Curse last week, the Teal Band wanted to figure out how much it would cost to measure the length of the Mississippi River in M&Ms.

We also took a look at the surface area of the triangles that make up the kite’s tetrahedrons. After exploring the triangles for a bit, they discovered that they could turn the triangle into a rectangle by cutting it in half and putting the two halves back together in another configuration to recreate the whole. Knowing that the area of a rectangle can be found by multiplying the width by the height, the Teal Band also worked to find the hypotenuse of the right triangles they had created when they cut the equilateral triangle in half, as that had become the height of their rectangle.

The Teal Band explored ways to find the surface area of the triangles that make up their kite's tetrahedrons.

The Teal Band explored ways to find the surface area of the triangles that make up their kite’s tetrahedrons.

With our Mendocino trip only weeks away, a few students are already making requests for cabin mates, cabin leaders, trail groups and more. These requests provided the perfect opportunity for the Teal Band to work on their persuasive writing skills. This coming week, they will work to help peer edit one another’s work.

Everyone in the Teal Band is working on a persuasive letter to someone else in the Brightworks community.

Everyone in the Teal Band is working on a persuasive letter to someone else in the Brightworks community.

The “bridge” between the Teal band space and the library is in need of a major facelift and the Teal Band has been tasked with taking that on. On Wednesday, we met with Amanda Simons to brainstorm. They listed how it is currently used, how they want to use it, and what they want to change. Everyone wanted to jump straight to their design ideas, but we are taking our time and doing this right. It’s hard to create a true design if you don’t have the measurements and a drawing of the space as is. This coming week, we will move onto the physical design. They cannot wait.

The first steps to updating the bridge between the band space and the library with Amanda.

The first steps to updating the bridge between the band space and the library with Amanda.

We wrapped up the week with a conversation around flying vs. gliding vs. floating. They worked together to define each of the three. It was not an easy task, but one that we had been touching on daily since day one. To expand on their thoughts around these concepts, each Teal bander wrote a blog post stemming from this discussion.

Sharing our thoughts around the differences between flying, gliding and floating

Sharing our thoughts around the differences between flying, gliding and floating

This coming week, the Teal Band will continue on with the design of the second iteration of their kite. We cannot wait to get it in the air.

Violet Band! 

Greetings from the north side of the mayonnaise factory’s “middle structures”, aka Violet Band headquarters! Natalie, Keyen, Clementine, Jacob, Harper, Zev, Sutchat, Trudy and Rich are happy to share that the new year is off to a exciting start, and the ball is rolling (or should I say the rocket is flying?) on By-Air. Over the past couple of weeks we have been getting to know each other, our bandspace, the school, Collaborators and peers.


Day 1. The students enter their new bandspace, and are greeted by the ultimate real-world problem solving exercise: the assembly of an Ikea office chair…



Introduction to hand-eye coordination



“By-Air” student generated brainstorm



Preparing for the library…



Travel around the city with them and you really get a sense of why they’re called “bands”.



Introduction to working with cardboard…




The Violet band makes geometry compasses out of cardboard.


Our first construction of the year was…kites! We began our builds by doing research on different types of kite design. Craft books and the internet offered a bunch of different designs, and each member of the band chose a design that was to their liking. Each design was different, and a few students chose to see how a scaled-down mini-kite version might do. Our building materials were rice paper, bamboo, string, and glue. Working with the materials was a challenge themselves, the delicate paper, HOT glue, and tangly string all gave us opportunities to practice our patience (with the materials AND our fingers).


More prepping of the bamboo…


The Violet band was not the only band to partake in a kite making adventure, and were joined by the Red and Teal bands on Bernal Hill. With the sun bright and the wind strong, our hopes were high. After climbing to the top of the hill, we all began to launch our kites…or at least try really hard to launch our kites… At the end of the day, only a few of our kites took to air, a few did imitations of a washing machine spin cycle before crashing into the Bernal churt, others fluttering a few breathless moments before dropping to our feet. However, the process was fun in itself, for attempting a launch became a cooperative effort between a person holding the kite, one with the string, and a third to film the experiment. Oh, and the view wasn’t that bad either.

The Bernal Hill International Kite Proving Grounds.


Teal Band’s group project reaches new heights, and inspires us all…


…and this is how we learn the most…



Back at Brightworks, we troubleshot why certain kites flew and others didn’t. An exploration of the forces affecting a flying kite, led us to an interest in calculating the surface area. Tinkering around with the idea led the students to discovering the equation for calculating the surface area of a triangle, and with this newfound knowledge, they were able to calculate a kite’s surface area. Scoring that goal with ease, the students were ready for another challenge. We brought another dimension into the mix, and they were off calculating the surface area of three-dimensional objects. A brief digression led us to explore how one calculates the gallons of paint needed to cover the exterior of a house (taking into account all windows), a concept we will use to better understand wing design as we move beyond kites next week…


The theme of kites has entered our literary world as well. We are reading the youth novel, Dragon Wings, by Laurence Yep. The story follows a young boy named Moonshadow from his village in China to San Francisco at the beginning of the last century. A stranger in a foreign land, the boy has to confront and understand the hardships of life in a foreign land, building a relationship with his father, and the technology that might allow him to fly as his father’s kites do. Class discussions about the book quickly move beyond exploring characters and particulars of the story, and venture into a land that addresses questions about society, sparked by comments such as; “I can’t believe they did that back then”, and “that’s so messed up”.


We’ve hit the ground running, and I for one am very excited to see what else we create and explore during the remaining weeks of our first short Arc. The students are very interested in exploring how music, sound, disease, and animals move around the world by air. Stay tuned to see how these interests manifest themselves in the weeks to come…

Making Kite Connections

Last week began with some kite reflection.


Writing out our kite reflections in our visual journal.

It was awesome to see how many opportunities for iteration everyone had leading up to our big test flight on Bernal Hill.


Felix was determined to make a rounded box kite. His first kite iteration was made out of whole bamboo poles that made the kite too heavy to fly.


Felix’s second kite iteration made for a better bucket than a kite, and so he turned it into a pulley system for our upstairs Band space.


Felix’s third and final iteration for the kite was made out of split bamboo and a nylon material. This combination made the kite much lighter, and it was easily picked up by the wind on Bernal Hill during our test flight.

We decided to build on our kite math to create two dueling dragon kites—one fire dragon for Amber Band and a water dragon for Indigo Band! We talked about the importance of having a failure positive attitude to help us iterate on our designs, while also being conservative with our materials so we didn’t produce too much waste. Understanding how to calculate surface area really helped us cut down on the amount of waste we produced in building our kite.


Norabelle’s plans for cutting out a 12″ ring.


Elijah, Ella, and Norabelle working hard to make the most with the least for cutting out their dragon kite panels.


Everyone in Ambigo designed a panel on our dragon kite using symbols to tell their personal story.


Rhone’s sketch using geometric patterns and personal symbols to tell the story of his past, present, and future on his panel for the dragon kite.

Last week we also started reading Laurence Yep’s historical novel Dragonwings. The book is inspired by the stories of a Chinese immigrant who made a flying machine in 1909, and portrays the rich traditions of the San Francisco Chinatown community that formed during this difficult time. As we read the book we’re practicing how to record important details, analyze the big idea of each chapter, and highlighting any new words. Students recreated tableaus from each chapter on Friday to act out important scenes from each chapter so far.


Declan plays the role of Moon Shadow traveling by boat to the Land of Golden Mountain in chapter one.


Moon Shadow, as played by Norabelle, receiving the knife from Black Dog in chapter two.


Felix plays the part of Windrider telling the story of how he got his name in chapter three.

Next week we’ll continue to build on our math skills by working with geometric solids. Will we design air-chairs for our upstairs band space? Will we make a hot air balloon to transport precious cargo? Will we build an air-supported geodesic dome? Anything is possible!

We’ll also continue to read Dragonwings, and to help learn more about Chinese culture while we do, we’ll get the chance to interview students in Hong Kong. Because of the 15 hour time difference, we’ll be doing our interview through a few back and forth video messages for now. We’ve also talked about possibly having a late-night Skype session at Brightworks to be able to talk to the students in Hong Kong when it’s daytime for them.

I’m looking forward to seeing all the ways we continue to explore the movement of things by air in these last few weeks of the first Arc!