Kit for educators helps students solve real-world flight problems using hands-on learning.


n Jose, California, February 9, 2016 – Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) has launched a new tool for educators that puts students in the flight engineer’s seat. The Controlled Flight Design Challenge is an activity kit that lets participants design and build a functional model of a flying craft that can carry a payload and/or land on a designated target. Students learn the steps of the engineering design process, vocabulary relevant to flight and experimentation, and the value of failure in engineering and science learning.

“We included materials that by themselves do not lead to obvious design solutions for flight,” said Eric Welker, Master Teacher and mastermind behind the Controlled Flight Design Challenge. “Participants have to use a minimum of five materials in creative ways to first create an object that flies and then modify and test it for controlled flight. While testing the kit, we saw that students tried to create something that looks like a traditional airplane while others took a different approach.”

The Controlled Flight Design Challenge aligns with Common Core State Standards in math and English as well as Next Generation Science Standards. It was created in conjunction with Taking Flight, The Tech Challenge 2016, presented by EMC. Participants in this annual youth challenge at The Tech Museum of Innovation use the engineering design process to tackle a real-world problem. Working in teams of two to six students, they learn creativity, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, presentation, risk-taking, perseverance, and learning from failure.

“Common Core Standards and NGSS require students to work collaboratively, communicate and come up with solutions to complicated problems,” said Abby Longcor, Director of The Tech Challenge. “Educators are searching for ways to help students build and grow these skills. Design challenges give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios, or even better, in the real-world itself.”

The Controlled Flight Design Challenge comes with lesson guides for Grades K-3 and 4-8, making the kit useful for a wide range of learners. The lesson plan also includes a list of additional educator resources on flight and design (books, multimedia, etc.) such as the history of flight, key inventions, and notable people who contributed to the study of aeronautics.

While perfect for classroom use, the design challenge is also being used by community groups such as libraries to host STEM-focused family events.

“Something that we’re trying to do at the library right now is bring 21st-century skills to our patrons and our community’s youth,” said Sarah Kishler, Instruction and Programming Services Librarian at San Jose Public Library. “The design process, collaboration, imagination, and iteration that this kit embodies are all things that demonstrate strong 21st-century skills. And this kit will go a long way to bring those skills to our patrons.”

The Controlled Flight Design Challenge can be purchased for $20 at both Bay Area RAFT locations or at the RAFT online store.

About RAFT
RAFT believes the best way to spark the love of learning for the next generation of thinkers, innovators, problem-solvers, and creators, is through hands-on learning. A nonprofit organization since 1994, RAFT serves 12,000 educators each year who teach over 900,000 students. Find out more about RAFT and how to get involved at

To find out more about The Tech Challenge, please visit

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This