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Navigating the Wild Blue Yonder

NavigationThink how easily you cruise to school along familiar routes. Now imagine trying to navigate the skies. No signs point you in the right direction, and there’s up and down to worry about in addition to North, South, East, and West. How do pilots find their way?

Your students can’t step into the cockpit, but these “pilot training lessons” developed by the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at the Stevens Institute of Technology will teach them the principles of aviation navigation in a fun series of activities.  They will earn their wings by using vectors and weather maps to track real planes flying in U.S. skies. Students then can test their knowledge by taking the Pilot Test Flight, using science and mathematics to solve such authentic, real-world problem as charting a course for an emergency landing.

Five of the eight activities in the series are designed for a 45-minute class; the rest may require two periods.  They cover vector basics, wind velocity, relative velocity, and estimating arrival time. Even your junior pilots will find something to broaden their horizons.

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