Wind Tunnel Online Design
online collaborative project
Take your students on a historical and scientific aeronautical journey
as they parallel the turn-of-the-century research and design work of Orville
and Wilbur Wright. Fall of 1901 found the Wright Brothers facing the dilemma
of unresolved aerodynamic and design problems presented by their first
full-sized glider. The technical assistance of their mentor and the "grand
old man of aeronautics", Octave Chanute, the Brother's persistent
problem solving, and their insightful use of engineering test apparatus
propelled them to build a wind tunnel out of an old starch box. Their
18" wing tunnel was used to test wing shapes and curvatures which
helped to unlock the secrets of lift and drag and shed new light on 20th
century aerodynamics principles.
Ninety-eight years later high school students who
participate in WTOD will replicate much of the Wright Brothers problem-solving
process. They will do this through teamwork focusing on research, brain-storming,
problem solving, design activities, collaboration with other participating
classrooms and online experts, and data collection. They will bid on the
best wind tunnel design (which they, themselves, select) and will engage
in the actual construction of wind tunnels built specifically for classroom
use. Through online interactions students and educators will work together
to share information and resources, resolve design problems, tap online
experts, and produce their BEST wind tunnel plan.
Through a bidding process similiar to the one used
by NASA, interested classes will be selected to construct wind tunnels
for their geographic region with limited financial support from sponsoring
partners . These local wind tunnels will be built with the intention of
using them for future education outreach and support of ADTO aeronautical
II. DEFINITION OF A COLLABORATIVE PROJECT
Collaborative projects are those in which students, educators, project
staff, guests, and experts come together online to share ideas and resources,
ask questions, analyze each other's ideas, and work as a member of a larger
community team to achieve specific goals. Sharing NASA projects have a
long history of supporting online collaborative projects, most recent
of which included the Planet Explorer Toolkit, a feature of Mars Team
Online, which challenged students to develop a planetary exploration toolkit.
See http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/shoebox.html for an example
of a collaborative project.
The purpose of collaborative projects is to enrich
and expand the understanding of scientific and engineering principles
behind NASA projects and to promote interaction between classrooms across
the globe. Each collaborative project has clear goals and objectives with
opportunities for interaction with NASA experts, project staff, and other
classrooms. A specific common goal, based on the premise of the value
of teamwork and consensus building, drives the online interactions. Timelines
define specific weekly activities and logistics. Online interactions take
place via email lists and the web.
III. LOGISTICS OF THE DISCUSSION FORUM
All people participating in the WTOD project must join the online collaborative
email discussion list. To do this, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your message tell us who you are and why you are interested.
Participants will first introduce themselves by sharing
information about their class, school, community, and selves. All messages
should be sent to: email@example.com
Each member of the discussion forum will receive a
copy of all messages posted to this list address. Please be sure to always
enter a clear subject and always add the following to all messages:
teacher's name, school, and location information in the signature file.
Students are encouraged to submit messages to the forum with their teacher's
review and approval.
the archive of messages already posted to discover where our discussion
has already been.
IV. LEARNING GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
- Students will use varied resources (books, online
resources, articles, etc.) to research and explore the historical aeronautical
work of the Wright Brothers. Student teams will identify the key events
that led to the building of wind tunnels and explain how the wind tunnels
expanded the understanding of aeronautics.
- Students will explore online web sites relating
to wind tunnels and identify the key design elements of wind tunnels.
Students will formulate a series of well-thought out questions relating
to the scientific and engineering principles of wind tunnel design.
These questions will be shared online via the email discussion list,
- Students will work in classroom level collaborative
teams to design a wind tunnel prototype based on sound design principles
using the pre-set parameters for size and cost.
- Student teams will present their design plan to
their classmates and be prepared to respond to questions from their
peers online. Classes will come to consensus on their BEST design plan
and share this plan online via the email discussion list, tunnel-aero
- Students will participate in online discussions
for the purpose of analyzing the design plans of all participating classrooms.
Questions which promote further understanding of the scientific and
engineering principles of the design plan will be formulated during
class discussion and presented online.
- Students will participate in the online consensus
building process for the purpose of selecting one BEST design plan.
This BEST plan will become the basis for the wind tunnel bid. This process
will enable select schools to bid and build the wind tunnel per design
specifications with limited financial assistance from sponsoring partners.
V. COLLABORATIVE PROJECT PHASES
Class introductions and informational exchanges. Each participating classroom
posts introductory file.
Compose an email message which includes the following information and
post to the tunnel-aero mail list:
- Name of sponsoring teacher/educator
- Grade level
- Number of participating students
- School or Club/Group Name
- Location (City/State/Country)
- Background: How and why class is involved
- Goals: What students/educator hopes to learn/gain
- Other comments/info
The above information should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
as soon as possible.
- ONLINE: Moderator(s) and guest experts have
already introduced themselves. Classes are also welcome to exchange
questions about the project or comments and suggestions.
Divide class into teams. Teams conduct online research on the following
focus questions using Wind Tunnel Bookmarks and library resources.
- Focus Research Questions
- What is a wind tunnel? What are the main parts
of a wind tunnel? How and why do aeronautical
engineers use wind tunnels?
- What prompted the Wright Brothers to build
a wind tunnel back in the spring of 1900? Describe their wind
tunnel, the type of aeronautical data collected, and the effectiveness
of their tests.
- What are the essential design elements of a
- What are the main types of test data collected
in wind tunnel tests?
- What safety features are essential to the design
of a wind tunnel?
- What are the key considerations that teams
should discuss relating to the design their wind tunnel?
- Wind Tunnel Bookmarks
- ONLINE: Online experts share resources and
helpful background information on wind tunnel design, Wright Brothers,
and related aeronautical information.
- Classes are welcome to post questions, concern
and issues to the tunnel-aero mail list.
- Teams share research knowledge and pose questions.
Phase Three: (WE ARE CURRENTLY HERE)
Classrooms work in teams on wind tunnel designs; experts available online
to respond to questions, address issues, and share insights the engineering
and design principles.
As a group we should agree on limitations to the parameters below. Students
are to brain-storm, use math and science problem solving skills to design
a wind tunnel to the following specifications.
- Wind Tunnel Specifications
- Test Section:
- Contraction Cone:
- Settling Chamber:
- Drive Section:
- Fan Housing:
- Fan Type:
- Maximum total cost:
for details on the above components of wind tunnels.
- Each participating classroom keeps a log of
questions, issues, concerns to share online with each other and
the wind tunnel experts. Classes submit these online on a daily
basis during this design phase. Experts will provide online guidance
but will not tell students specifics on how to devise their wind
- Classes are encouraged to exchange questions,
issues, concerns about the specifications and design phase.
- Classes should help each other out by sharing
resources, web sites, and useful information!
- Questchat with NASA Experts, student and educator
wind tunnel facilitators scheduled during this time.
- Announcements will be posted to the tunnel-aero
list detailing participation procedure.
Student teams present and defend wind tunnel designs
within own classroom. Students come to consensus on their best design
plan and submit via online web form. Online interactions focus on evaluating
wind tunnel designs.
- Each classroom team presents their wind tunnel
design for critique phase.
- Students critique designs based on the following
a) Does the design fit the specifications given?
b) Are the materials well-suited to demands that will be placed
on the wind tunnel?
c) Is the cost projection accurate?
d) Is the design scientifically sound?
e) Is the design logistically feasible based on engineering principles
and test data needs?
f) Will the wind tunnel work efficiently and reliably to measure
the test data?
- Students should reach in-class consensus on
their BEST wind tunnel design and submit this plan. Local incentives
might be used to reward the team which submitted the best design.
Guest engineers or local experts might be invited to participate
in critique and discussion phase.
- Wind Tunnel Experts, student and educator mentors
participate in online discussions.
- Focus on evaluation of wind tunnel design plans
and critique phase of project.
- Classes are encouraged to share questions,
concerns, issues relating to the in-house critique process.
Classrooms analyze all wind tunnel design plans submitted online.
- Classes are to review all designs via the online
- Each class should formulate and post questions
to pose to one another based on the wind tunnel evaluation criteria.
- Online discussions will be facilitated by wind
tunnel experts (NASA experts, student and educator mentors). The
goal is to critique all of the submitted designs and select the
one best plan that fits the specifications, is logistically viable,
will produce the best test data, and is within cost limitations.
- Via consensus reaching with the guidance of
online experts determine THE "BEST OF THE BEST" WIND TUNNEL
- ONLINE: Online interactions focus on identifying
pro's and con's of all designs submitted and narrow the choice to the
BEST Wind Tunnel Design which will be the basis for the four partially-funded
tunnels to be built within a geographically diverse location in the
US. NASA experts and project mentors provide leadership and input to
facilitate the consensus-reaching process.
- Announce the winning Wind Tunnel Design Plan
- Phase II begins: Be a NASA Contractor Bid on the
building of a regional wind tunnel for your geographic region. Bid overview
and procedure to be detailed.