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For each student:

1. Student Handouts (see Teacher Overview Outline part III.)

2. Space Shuttle Glider Kit -print from Web site on thick cardstock paper (65-80 lb. paper)

For each team: (3-4 students per team)

1. Designate each team of students with a team name or number. (Idea: Use the names of NASA's shuttles: Columbia, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavor and/or create names that would be appropriate for future shuttles: Explorer, Horizon, Revelation, Genesis, Voyager, Adventure, etc.)

2. Landing site:
  • fishing line
  • masking tape (that will not leave adhesive on the floor)
  • "control stick"
    (sawn off wooden broom handle, thick dowel, yardstick)
    optimum length: 1.5 feet (18 in.)
  • runway
  • tape measure or ruler
  • calculators
  • scissors
  • ladder or chair (without wheels) to stand on
  • space shuttle glider
  • materials for landing site

    Instructions for Building the Landing Site:

  • The following suggested measurements used in this activity are as close as possible to a scale representation of the actual Space Shuttle.

  • The measurements in the table, under "Space Shuttle Glider Activity-Teacher Information", are the basis for the glider's landing site measurements given below. The ratio of the Height of the orbiter compared to the Total distance to touchdown point is 1 to 3. Thus the measurements for the glider's landing site, 8 feet high and 24 feet long, are also in a ratio of 1 to 3. If you are not able to appropriate this much space in your classroom, at least try to maintain the same ratio of 1 to 3.

  • The runway for the Space Shuttle Orbiter has measurements that are nearly twice the length of width of a conventional runway used for commercial airlines. The runway is 91 meters (300 feet) wide and 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) long. However, the orbiter aims for a point 1,500 meters passed the runway threshold, and usually rolls to a stop with 600 meters left. Thus the amount of runway that is actually used by the orbiter is 2,500 meters. The ratio of 91 meters to 2,500 meters is about 1 to 25. As you can see, the length of the runway is dramatically longer than the width of the runway. For our practical purposes, we found that a ratio of 1 to 6, although not to scale, is sufficient.

  • For a wider, range of results, vary the measurements of each Landing Site, within the suggested parameters. You may want to try different ratios of 1 to 3. In other words, for the scatter plot worksheet, each group will have similar results if their landing sites have the same measurements.

    Drawing of recommended scale measurements:

    drawing of setup for student investigation

    a. Find a location that has about 30-35 feet in length of floor space, 3-5 feet in width and 8-10 feet in height.
    b. Tie one end of nylon fishing line to someplace high, at least 7-8 feet high. (Suggestion: Try pinning a hook to your classroom wall, and looping the fishing line onto the hook.)
    c. glider held in place Wrap a piece of tape onto the fishing line at a point 3 inches away from where the top end of the fishing line is secured. This point is called the "measuring point". The purpose of the tape is to hold the glider in place by "hooking" the paper clip over the tape to keep the glider from accidentally sliding down the fishing line.
    d. Run the fishing line to the end of the desired runway area.
    e. Lay the fishing line along the ground to help you position the runway so that the fishing line runs down the center of it.
    f. Place the tape on the ground to create the runway. Remember to keep an eye on the fishing line so that it runs down the center of the runway. (Another idea for creating a runway is to use construction paper, 12" x 9", and tape 8 sheets along the 12" side so that the finished runway is 12" x 72". Draw a dashed line down the center of the runway.)
    g. Make any necessary adjustments to the fishing line or the runway to make sure it is lined up.
    h. fishing line on control stick Secure the fishing line onto the "control stick" about 2/3 of the length of the stick,from the bottom of the stick. For example, if your "control stick" is 18", the line should be tied 12" from the bottom of the stick. (Try tying the line around the stick then using a push pin, or tape to keep the line from sliding. Or cut a groove into the stick using scissors or an xacto knife to hold the line in place.)
    i. placement of control stick Place a piece of masking tape 18" past the end of the runway (on the opposite side from where the fishing line is tied to the higher end). This marks the spot where the pilot will place the bottom of the "control stick" when guiding the glider for landing. Be sure the fishing line can touch the runway, if the pilot leans the "control stick" forward.
    j. Have the pilot sit down at the end of the runway with the stick held upright in front of him/her. Again, make sure the fishing line is running down the center of the runway.
    k. view of pilot and copilot Also check that the tension of the fishing line has enough slack to allow the glider to land on the runway. Otherwise the glider will fly right into the "control stick".

    For each class:

    1. Large paper to display class results on scatter plot graph
    2. Calculators
    3. Glue (stick or white)
    4. Tape (cellophane)
    5. Masking tape
    6. Paper clips
    7. Fishing line
    8. "Control sticks"
    9. Tape measures or Rulers
    10. Second-hand stop watches or Clock
    11. Space Shuttle Glider Kit
    12. Scissors
    13. Pens or Pencils
    14. Cardstock Paper (65-80 lbs.)
    15. Double-sided tape
    16. "Weight" (to attach to the bottom of the glider - see Step #11 in Instructions for Building Space Shuttle Glider)

    Back to Teacher Overview Outline


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