Week 1

Session 1

Guiding Question

  • How can we make sand stand tall?


  • How do we solve problems (referring to the Problem Solving Chart)?

  • How does an airplane stay in the sky?


  • Understand the problem-solving process (the Problem Solving Chart)

  • Create hypothesis of what makes an airplane fly.

CT Components


  • Making paper airplanes and fly them;


  • Explaining flight, i.e., what elements make an object stay in the sky.


5-10 minutes

Briefly explain to the students that for the next eight weeks we will be learning about airplanes and how they fly. Possible questions to ask, "How many of you flew on an airplane?" Pause, and then "How many of you wonder how airplanes can stay in the sky?"

Then further introduce the project: "We will be learning about the different parts that make up an airplane, the forces at play during flight, and how airplanes fly and stay in the air, We will take on the role of engineers working through the design process of building airplanes, testing, and redesigning our planes, until we are happy with their performance. The last week, we will compete in a contest to determine whose plane flies the farthest and whose planes have the longest flight time."

Video Activity

15-20 minutes

Show students one or more of the following videos:

Blue Angels

People are Awesome

The Wonderful World of Flying

Live from the Flight Deck

Group Discussion

After watching the videos, the facilitator asks "Why do you think airplanes stay in the air?"

Possible discussion topics: wings, forward motion of airplane, engines, forces, lift, thrust;

Have students create their hypothesis and record hypothesis and discussions in their notebooks.

Introduce the Problem-solving Process

Introduce the Problem Solving Chart: Facilitator says, "before we begin, let's look at the problem-solving diagram and go over the categories in the diagram". Discuss the chart with the students

Tell the students that over the next several weeks they’ll work through this process while designing their own airplane.

Please mention computational thinking (CT) while explaining the Problem Solving Chart so that students are aware of CT.

Teamwork Activity

5-10 minutes

Students will form groups of three for activities and the final competition project. Once in their groups, they will name their airplane company and design the logo/mission patch for their planes. Students will share the company names and logos/mission patch with their fellow classmates.

Paper Airplane Group Activity

Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry (25-30 minutes)

Part 1

In groups, students make paper airplanes and fly them, observing which designs fly fastest, which fly the farthest, which ones make loops, and which ones didn’t work, etc. (The purpose of is to gather information to use later).

It may be helpful to keep the airplanes they make for the next lesson.

Student Pre-Survey

20 minutes

Students fill out the pre- survey in the first session to establish the baseline data. The researchers will prepare the surveys. Teachers will collect the completed surveys and return the surveys to the researchers on site.

End of Session Reflection and Debriefing

5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. Using the problem solving process diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

  • What did I learn today?

  • What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

  • How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?