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May 29, 2017

The “Wright” Way to Encourage and Inspire!

By Shari Edwards
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    The first time I walked into Sarah Forster’s middle school STEM/Social Studies classroom this year, my eyes were drawn to a new bulletin board display she had constructed. She titled it, "Study STEM the 'Wright' Way!" On the board, were displayed six key ideas she had garnered during a visit to the Wright brothers’ aviation museum in Dayton, Ohio, the summer before.

    Teachers are so good at picking out perfect teaching moments in their everyday lives. Foster described how she had toured the museum, read, watched, experienced, and gleaned treasures for her students. She learned about the lives of two ordinary boys with a dream and the confidence, so strongly instilled in them by the adults in their lives, to try something deemed impossible by the world.

    Sixty-six years after the first short flight of their tiny aeroplane, another pioneer and astronaut, Neil Armstrong, carried a small piece of muslin, from the wing of that 1903 plane, as he took his first step onto the moon. That small artifact represented the grit and determination that ultimately resulted in a man on the moon and was carried in honor of the brothers with a dream to fly.

    Stories of investigation, perseverance, and ultimate success, by ordinary people, can encourage us to keep trying in our own lives.

    Encourage your students with these key points from Foster’s study of the Wright brothers’ adventures!

    ·       Pay attention to the world around you.

    In an age of digital distraction, this obvious key is much more difficult to realize than it used to be. Ask students to spend time observing objects or nature, and taking note of what they perceive. Statements that begin with “I notice…” might help them verbalize their observations.

    ·       Think outside the box.

    Is something not working? Ask (and try to answer) questions! The Wright brothers’ accomplishments were built on curiosity, investigations, experiments, and hundreds of attempts! When students are stuck, encourage them to brainstorm ideas. Assure them that even silly ideas might have value. Statements that begin with “I wonder why (how, or if)…” will help them open the box and climb out!

    ·       Make mistakes, learn, and move on.

    Ask any inventor and they will tell you that mistakes are extremely important to the process.  Allow a small bit of time for disappointment after an “unsuccessful” attempt at something and then a bigger bit of time on asking, “What happened?” and “What can I change to make it work?”

    ·       You can get frustrated but you can’t give up.

    Nearly 700,000,000 passengers fly in the US per year. Where would our world be if Wilber and Orville had given up? Their father, Bishop Milton Wright, reminded Orville in 1908 that, “We learn much by tribulation, and by adversity our hearts are made better. Read passages with your students from a Wright brothers biography. I list a few in the resources below for you to explore together. Keep the emphasis on the process of developing ideas rather that the end project goal. Help students recover from frustration with questions like “Why didn’t it work?” and “What can I change?”

    ·      It takes time.

    This is a hard one for children, and adults, alike! Our world is very good at giving us instant gratification, and we’re even better at taking it! Have students tally their attempts as part of the data they collect. Wilber and Orville began getting interested in flight about 1896. It was three more years before they could be found experimenting with a special kite they had built to test some of their ideas. There were still four more years of trial and error before the small but very significant short flight in 1903. Until that time, they experienced much of what some might call failure, and many more years of successes and failures to come. They had a different way of looking at their attempts. They called it investigation!

    ·       Have pride in a job well done.

    Students might think that this is something that will happen when there is an end to the project, but I say each step done well is a reason to take pride in your work. Celebrate the small steps completed and look forward to the next step. Ask students how they got there. Have them explain what was a success in that step of the process. Ask them, “What did you learn?” and “What were your steps?” Have them realign with the goals of the project or job and ask, “What will be their next step?”

    According to another famous inventor, Charles F. Kettering, these six keys, and lots of support and encouragement from their parents, helped Wilber and Orville Wright fly “right through the smokescreen of impossibility.”

    Inspire your students with Wilber and Orville Wright’s story with the following resources!

    The Wright Brothers: Inventors of the Airplane by Bernard Ryan Jr.

     

    The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman, with original photographs by Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright

     

    Scholastic Science Supergiants: Can You Fly High, Wright Brothers? by Gilda Berger and Melvin Berger , illustrated by Brandon Dorman

    Wright Brothers Virtual Museum with history, activities, lesson plans, resources and more!

    NASA’s Re-living the Wright Way website with great projects and lessons!

    There are so many resources out there on inventors. When you finish with the Wright brothers, check this out for more interesting people to learn from!

    The first time I walked into Sarah Forster’s middle school STEM/Social Studies classroom this year, my eyes were drawn to a new bulletin board display she had constructed. She titled it, "Study STEM the 'Wright' Way!" On the board, were displayed six key ideas she had garnered during a visit to the Wright brothers’ aviation museum in Dayton, Ohio, the summer before.

    Teachers are so good at picking out perfect teaching moments in their everyday lives. Foster described how she had toured the museum, read, watched, experienced, and gleaned treasures for her students. She learned about the lives of two ordinary boys with a dream and the confidence, so strongly instilled in them by the adults in their lives, to try something deemed impossible by the world.

    Sixty-six years after the first short flight of their tiny aeroplane, another pioneer and astronaut, Neil Armstrong, carried a small piece of muslin, from the wing of that 1903 plane, as he took his first step onto the moon. That small artifact represented the grit and determination that ultimately resulted in a man on the moon and was carried in honor of the brothers with a dream to fly.

    Stories of investigation, perseverance, and ultimate success, by ordinary people, can encourage us to keep trying in our own lives.

    Encourage your students with these key points from Foster’s study of the Wright brothers’ adventures!

    ·       Pay attention to the world around you.

    In an age of digital distraction, this obvious key is much more difficult to realize than it used to be. Ask students to spend time observing objects or nature, and taking note of what they perceive. Statements that begin with “I notice…” might help them verbalize their observations.

    ·       Think outside the box.

    Is something not working? Ask (and try to answer) questions! The Wright brothers’ accomplishments were built on curiosity, investigations, experiments, and hundreds of attempts! When students are stuck, encourage them to brainstorm ideas. Assure them that even silly ideas might have value. Statements that begin with “I wonder why (how, or if)…” will help them open the box and climb out!

    ·       Make mistakes, learn, and move on.

    Ask any inventor and they will tell you that mistakes are extremely important to the process.  Allow a small bit of time for disappointment after an “unsuccessful” attempt at something and then a bigger bit of time on asking, “What happened?” and “What can I change to make it work?”

    ·       You can get frustrated but you can’t give up.

    Nearly 700,000,000 passengers fly in the US per year. Where would our world be if Wilber and Orville had given up? Their father, Bishop Milton Wright, reminded Orville in 1908 that, “We learn much by tribulation, and by adversity our hearts are made better. Read passages with your students from a Wright brothers biography. I list a few in the resources below for you to explore together. Keep the emphasis on the process of developing ideas rather that the end project goal. Help students recover from frustration with questions like “Why didn’t it work?” and “What can I change?”

    ·      It takes time.

    This is a hard one for children, and adults, alike! Our world is very good at giving us instant gratification, and we’re even better at taking it! Have students tally their attempts as part of the data they collect. Wilber and Orville began getting interested in flight about 1896. It was three more years before they could be found experimenting with a special kite they had built to test some of their ideas. There were still four more years of trial and error before the small but very significant short flight in 1903. Until that time, they experienced much of what some might call failure, and many more years of successes and failures to come. They had a different way of looking at their attempts. They called it investigation!

    ·       Have pride in a job well done.

    Students might think that this is something that will happen when there is an end to the project, but I say each step done well is a reason to take pride in your work. Celebrate the small steps completed and look forward to the next step. Ask students how they got there. Have them explain what was a success in that step of the process. Ask them, “What did you learn?” and “What were your steps?” Have them realign with the goals of the project or job and ask, “What will be their next step?”

    According to another famous inventor, Charles F. Kettering, these six keys, and lots of support and encouragement from their parents, helped Wilber and Orville Wright fly “right through the smokescreen of impossibility.”

    Inspire your students with Wilber and Orville Wright’s story with the following resources!

    The Wright Brothers: Inventors of the Airplane by Bernard Ryan Jr.

     

    The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman, with original photographs by Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright

     

    Scholastic Science Supergiants: Can You Fly High, Wright Brothers? by Gilda Berger and Melvin Berger , illustrated by Brandon Dorman

    Wright Brothers Virtual Museum with history, activities, lesson plans, resources and more!

    NASA’s Re-living the Wright Way website with great projects and lessons!

    There are so many resources out there on inventors. When you finish with the Wright brothers, check this out for more interesting people to learn from!

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