Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Joy of Flight

The following article was submitted by Stan Taylor, Workshop
Presenter, Scientists in School:

The Windsor Airport always held a fascination for me. I used to ride my bike up to the fence where the aircraft used to take off or land, depending upon which way the wind was blowing, in total fascination. “What got them off the ground? What kept them in the air?” are questions I would ask myself with my head cranked skyward. The answers to these questions would come much later during my senior years.

I taught elementary school with the Toronto Catholic District School Board for 23 years. My last four years were spent teaching Grade 6 students at St. Barnabas in Scarborough how to build balsawood gliders to scale. We would start off using a 1:1 scale on 1 cm2 grid paper.

On an overhead projector I would show them how to draw the top view, side view and front view. We would put in all the measurements, and make out a materials list. We made the airplanes and it was such good fun.

When I retired, I joined a group called “Scientists in School” ( This not-for-profit organization began in 1989 in 40 Durham Region classrooms as a pilot project of community scientists. Today about 600 000 children and youth participate in 65 curriculum-aligned workshops across the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Guelph, Waterloo Region and Niagara Region, with outreach into rural and remote communities in other parts of Ontario. We are also doing a pilot project in Lethbridge, Alberta. We have the largest elementary student reach of any science promotion organization or any science centre across Canada. We are, in essence, the field trip that comes to the school.

I teach a workshop with Scientists in School called “Air and Flight.” In this workshop, the students do experiments to demonstrate the four forces that govern flight, namely: Thrust, lift, gravity and drag. I am in my 10th year doing this workshop and it is as much fun for me now as it was when I first started.

Scientists in School has allowed me to go beyond the organization with my flight activities. I have been involved in the “Malls of Science” through “Science Rendezvous” for the past three years teaching children from 8 to 15 how to build balsawood gliders. Three years ago I was privileged to do an all-day workshop on “Things That Fly” for a school of the deaf in Toronto. During the Summer of 2009, I took part in the 100th Anniversary of powered flight in Canada with COPA 70 at the Oshawa Airport. I do my workshops with 10 school boards in and near Toronto. During the second week of November, I gave a workshop to Ontario educators on “Building Balsawood Gliders to Scale” at the Annual Conference of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario.

What was really fascinating about the Conference was the hotel’s close proximity to Pearson International Airport. Whenever I went out to my car or returned to the hotel, I could hear a jet overhead and I looked up.

On December 12, I was at the Canadian Air and Space Museum teaching children how to make hovercrafts and balsawood gliders. Although I now comprehend the physics of flight and comprehend how aircraft get off the ground and stay airborne, I am still in awe of these beautiful flying machines. I daydream and I think back to the days of my youth, well spent at the Windsor Airport.

Stan Taylor,

Workshop Presenter

Scientists in School


Grace Cherian said...

Fascinating, Stan to see where your childlike wonder has led and still keeps you!

JetAviator7 said...

Glad to see someone encouraging youngsters to get into aviation. As a pilot I am always trying to get my grand kids interested in flying. Recently we built a rubber band airplane and they are learning about the 4 forces and really enjoy it.

Stanley R Taylor Communications said...

To JetAviator7, Thanks for the kudos. It is such good fun. I do about 60 presentations a year with about 30 kids per class and I am just completing my 1oth year. That equals about 18 000 kids.

I checked out your rubber band airplane. It that the one on the You-Tube video called the flying kite. It is so cool. I've got to make one. You wouldn't like to email me the plans for free, would you?

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