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Air – How do we get things to fly?

Early STEM Award 2022 – SA Winner

Good Shepherd Lutheran School (Curiosity Early Learning) 

Our project emerged after reflecting on the learning experiences at the end of Term 1. During this time, we observed children engaging in activities that involved air and flight.  

These activities included throwing paper aeroplanes, crafting kites, and experimenting with methods to set things in motion. Throughout these activities, children were observed communicating, collaborating, and challenging themselves alongside their peers. For instance, they played a game of who could throw the plane the farthest, used informal units to measure the kite’s distance, explained the potential altitude of the plane or kite, and tested the impact of wind direction.  

These moments of exploration were filled with laughter and enthusiasm and our team decided to nurture this interest by devising learning opportunities related to flight and air for Term 2. 

To support our discussions, we employed mentor texts such as “The Secrets of Air,” “Ollie and the Wind,” and “The Wind Blew.” We also facilitated brainstorming sessions with the children, focusing on the question: ‘What is air?’  

Notable responses from the children included: 

“You can feel the breeze of the ocean at the beach.”   

“The balloon flew in the air! It had lots of air inside. You get air from your lungs.” 

“Air is invisible — I can feel it on my head!”

We provided all children with the chance to explore their initial understandings and hypotheses about air. These ranged from the role of air in flight (as seen in kite-making), the connection of air to bodily movement, enquiries about gases in our bodies, the presence of air in our environment, the significance of air from a child’s perspective, and the various entities that fly, for instance, drones, birds, etc. 

We documented these ideas and hypotheses in our floor-book — a new approach aimed at empowering children to collectively document and reflect on their learning. Some notable observations resulting from this exploration included the realisation that air helps us breathe, air is used to pump your car tyre when it’s flat, kites require a running start for lift-off, air is comprised of different gases, and the sky contains this invisible element.

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