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Monday Morning Ready11.17.2017
Jumpstart Your Week!

Modern commercial aviation is incredibly safe. Still, things could always be safer, right? That’s the thinking behind an odd-looking plane design dreamed up and posted on YouTube by Vladimir Tatarenko (reported to be a Ukrainian aviation engineer). The design is for a detachable airliner cabin, which would fall away from the wings, engine and cockpit in case of an accident, landing safely with parachutes.... < read more >
Grade 3-4

If you flew in an airplane with a double-decker cabin seating arrangement, would you rather sit in a top seat or one on the bottom? Why?

Grade 5-6

The article featured an idea for nap straps. Would you use these if you were traveling on a long flight? Why or why not?

Grade 7-8

The article featured two ideas for a detachable cabin. Would you want to fly in a plane with detachable parts? Why or why not?

Grade 9-10

One idea presented in the article was to have pilots operate an airplane using a digital viewing surface. Given that hackers can potentially overtake any computer system, how could designers guarantee that a system like this would be safe?

Innovate the Airline Industry


  1. Instruct students to think about a time they flew on an airplane. What was their experience like? Encourage students to describe what they liked-and what they didn't-from the time they entered the airport to the moment they reached their destination. 
  2. Inform students that some people enjoy flying, but many others don't. They dislike everything from the long lines in the terminal to the small seats on the plane. Point out, however, that the same issues that annoy customers provide designers with the opportunity to create new products.
  3. As a class, brainstorm a list of items and issues related to flying on an airplane. Instruct students to select one of these items or issues and think about how it could be changed to improve the safety, comfort or efficiency of the flying experience. Have students create a detailed sketch or diagram of their designs. Challenge them to explain how their visions would make flying a better experience. 


Invite students to share their designs with the class. Encourage classmates to identify how each design would improve the comfort, safety or efficiency of the flying experience. 


Grades 3-4:
As a class, select one flying-related item or issue that students would most like to improve. Brainstorm ideas about how that could be done. Encourage students to pick what they think are the best ideas. Then give each student a piece of plain white paper and access to drawing supplies. Encourage students to draw a picture of their vision.
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct group members to identify one thing they would all like to change about flying. Then have them brainstorm ideas for how to make that item or process more comfortable, safer or more efficient. Give partners time to create a detailed sketch of their product. If they want to improve a process, such as developing a way to have shorter lines, instruct them to draw before and after pictures to show how their new system would work. 
Grades 7-8: 
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to identify one thing they would both like to change about flying. Then have them brainstorm ideas for how to make that item or process more comfortable, safer or more efficient. If partners selected a product, instruct them to create a detailed sketch of their invention. If they chose a process, challenge them to create a detailed diagram showing how it would work. 
Grades 9-10:
Have students complete the project with a partner. Instruct pairs to select one product or process that could be improved for a better flying experience. Challenge them to create a patent-worthy diagram showing how their product or process would work.
Black Wings: African American Pioneer Aviators
The invention of the airplane sparked a revolution in modern technology. Beginning in the 1920s, a small number of determined black air enthusiasts fought against racial discrimination and formidable odds to realize their dream. They learned how to fly. Use these Smithsonian lessons and interactive activities to help students to explore the history of African American aerial pioneers.

One Life: Amelia Earhart
This online exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery introduces students to Amelia Earhart. The site includes rare film footage of the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Milestones of Flight Teaching Poster
This teaching poster introduces students to seven of the most historic aircraft and spacecraft in the National Air and Space Museum’s collections. Students learn about the technological advances of these craft as well as their impact on society.

From Airmail to Airlines
This extensive National Air and Space Museum teacher guide features classroom activities that explore changes in air transportation from 1920 to the present.

Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery
Introduce students to the people, moments, technology and culture that helped aviation literally get off the ground in the 1920s and 1930s. This Smithsonian site includes a variety of fun, interactive games that put students in the cockpit and show them what it was like to be a pioneer of flight.

The Wright Brothers: The Invention of the Aerial Age
Invite students to complete interactive experiments and other classroom activities as they learn about Wilbur and Orville Wright, how they invented a flying machine and the beginning of the aerial age. All materials were developed by the National Air and Space Museum.

How Things Fly
Encourage students to learn by doing as they complete these activities from the National Air and Space Museum. Students will learn how wings work, design and make their own paper airplanes, take a distance challenge and see the forces of flight in action. They can even practice flying with a controlled flight simulator or by building a rocket in a rocket lab.