Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Wright Brothers


Looking for a new read-aloud, we headed to our home library. Majority vote determined The Wright Brothers (from the Landmark series) by Quentin Reynolds would be our next read. From the very first page, we were captivated. Science, geography, life application. Encouragement for mom. A great read for sure!

Side note: This book spoke to me as a mom who strives to encourage children to ask questions, to remain curious, to love learning. Pages 4-6 impacted me, so much so that I often quote this passage when I speak to mama of little learners. Susan Wright inspired her children with her ability to encourage questions and cultivated wonder. Her efforts changed technology.

     "What makes a bird fly, Mother?" Wilbur asked.
     "Their wings, Will," she said. "You notice they move their wings and that makes them go faster."
     "But Mother, " Will said, not quite satisfied, "that bird that just swooped down didn't even move his wings. He swooped down and grabbed a fish, and then went right up again. He never moved his wings at all."
      "The wind doesn't just blow toward you or away from you," she said. "It blows up and down too. When a current of air blows up, it takes the bird up. This wings support him in the air."
The story continues as the brothers ask their mother questions about what they were observing. Wilbur insists he could fly if he had wings, if he could make wings. The narrator concludes the chapter:

"She knew that even an eleven-year-old boy can have ideas of his own, and just because they happened to come from an eleven-year-old head--well, that didn't make them foolish. She never treated her children as if they were babies, and perhaps that's why they liked to go fishing with her or on picnics with her. And that's why they kept asking her questions.

We finished the book and our children wanted to learn more about the Wright Brothers and flight. That interest led to asking the local butcher for Styrofoam meat trays from which we cut glider wings. Gliders led to creating a Science Fair project which hypothesized the effect of paper weight on the flight of paper airplanes. We folded, flew, measured and compared. What a journey! It all started with a trip to our home library.

The Wright Brothers by Elizabeth MacLeod
To Fly: The Story of the Wright Brothers by Wendie C. Old
First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers by George Shea

Learning resources
Wright Brothers unit study (includes instructions for making gliders)

Another tutorial for making gliders

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