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Space Shuttle Glider Activity  Teacher Information
In this activity the students will achieve a greater understanding of
glide slope by manipulating the measurements that affect the landing of
the shuttle orbiter. The students will construct a space
shuttle glider (that you can download from the Web) which is a 1cm:300cm
scale of the actual U.S. Space Shuttle orbiter. Teachers: You may want
to draw the actual size of the cockpit window or the tip of the nose to
give the students an idea of the actual size of the orbiter.
The cockpit window on the side of
the orbiter would have the following
actual size measurements: 

The nose of the orbiter would
have the following actual size
measurements: 

Then, they will have the opportunity to reenact the landing procedure
by controlling glide slope and piloting the glider in for a smooth landing.
They will record their results to further explore the meaning of glide
slope, flight time and distance, and compare their data to the glide slope,
flight time and distance of NASA's space shuttle orbiter landings (see
table below).
Landing Data Collection Sheet: Space Shuttle
This entire activity is done in conjunction with other activities under
Space Shuttle Aeronautics found on NASA Quest's Female Frontiers Web Site
at: http://www.quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers
Key Questions
Why does the orbiter reenter the atmosphere at such a high velocity?
Why is it necessary for the orbiter to reenter the atmosphere at such
a steep angle of attack?
What strategies does the orbiter take to slow down before landing?
Does glide slope affect the speed of the glider?
Time Frame
Five to Seven class sessions of 45 to 60 minutes each.
Getting Ready
1. Run all multiple copies of each student handout.
2. Read through the lesson plan.
3. Review Math Worksheets and other math concepts needed for this activity.
4. Assemble a glider for yourself.
5. Decide where the landings will take place.
6. Prepare the area for glider landings.
7. Try a few practice runs yourself on each landing site.
8. Place students into groups of 34 for each landing site.
9. Be sure each group has the necessary materials: gliders, pencils,
watch or clock with secondhand, tape measure, rulers, calculators,
student handouts
Prerequisite Knowledge for Students
Using tape measures or rulers to measure distances
Reading a secondhand on a watch or clock
Converting a fraction to a decimal using longhand or a calculator
Rounding to the nearest tenthousandths place (possibly with repeating
decimals)
Estimating
Reading a table to determine the value of the glide slope
Subtracting decimals
Understanding the concept of the xaxis and yaxis
Graphing a scatter plot and line of best fit
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