The helicopter visit stole the show the second day of sleuths. In the middle of first day, we found out that we will have a helicopter visit in the afternoon. We decided that we would surprise the students. They were already going to be outside testing how to control the turns of an airplane. We would just move the students to another part of the field to see the helicopter arrive.
It was so cool seeing the students investigate flight. The morning consisted of the students examining flight through whirligigs, puddle jumpers and copters. Although I knew the purpose of the investigation, I had not tried out the puddle jumpers or copters. Since I had older students, I figured we could figure it out together. I was so glad we did. It was fun to learn along side students.
To make sure the students understood what they were investigating, we did a brief discussion at the beginning of the day. We reviewed the know and need to know list. We marked through questions that we had answers to as well as questions that are not necessary to solving the problem. I lead them into how they still had questions about flight. I asked them if would be helpful to investigate flight. This helped to lead into the day's activities of investigations of flights. It is important in PBL that you lead students into the activities by showing them how it answers their questions. This enables them to still maintain ownership of answering the problem while you also guide them through understanding the content.
As we prepared to complete several flight activities, I explained how they are studying two main things. What causes the object to fly? How does what they do with each type of flight device, changes how the object flies? The whirligigs were just paper cut outs that resembled a flower, they never flew but students were able to see how air moved through the pedals. The puddle jumpers were basically one plastic propeller attached to a stick and copters were balloons attached to propellers. The students wrapped up the investigations after lunch with a balsa wood created airplane. This was the main investigation in that it enabled them to see how the wings affect direction.
Students were amazed by the arrival of the helicopter while they were flying the balsa wood planes. They bombarded the helicopter and airplane pilot with great questions that would help them solve the problem. Check out the great pictures from the day. Again, I do not have the ability to show the pictures that contain the students with high visibility.