Pigs are Flying at Rising Star Elementary School

Rising Star Parachutes
Shawnee Mission School District

After reading the book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly, a sixth grade lesson at Rising Star Elementary School took flight.

The book tells story of four black female mathematicians who helped launch rockets and astronauts into space. Recently, the students welcomed a group of women from Garmin to their school to discuss the variety of careers in the aviation profession including Software Engineer, Design Certification Engineer, and Aviation Product Support.

The discussion then moved to sharing information about parachutes, the definition, where they are used, and the scientific qualities of resistance, weight, and drag. They asked the students, “What makes a good parachute?”

The students then applied their learning in a challenge. Who could design a parachute for a plastic pig that would be airborne the longest? Students had their choice of parachute materials including cellophane, tissue paper, newspaper and parchment, and could collaborate with classmates.

“I like hands-on activities, because the more experience you have, the more you will remember,” Jairden Alexander sixth grader shared.

To complete the challenge, each student had the opportunity to have their parachute released from a six-foot ladder.

“This presentation and challenge connects the book to the real world,” noted Sarah Ackerman, instructional coach. “It also incorporated the engineering design process of problem, design, testing and redesign.”

Marley Burks, sixth grader, designed the best parachute with a hang time of 3.46 seconds for her pig.

The presentation also coincided with the 10th Annual Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, March 2-8, 2020.