Primary Science Workshops

Primary school science workshops with a WOW!

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BITESIZE SCIENCE: How planes fly

This was a long time ago!  One of the first flying man-made objects we know about was when the Chinese discovered that a kite could fly in the air in around 400bc.  After centuries of myths, legends and aspirations about flying like birds, this was the pivotal step towards taking to the skies that would lead eventually to men flying to the moon.

 

However, it wasn’t as simple as just inventing a kite!  Many scientists and inventors worked on machines for thousands of years until mankind actually managed it.

(Teachers, this is covered in much more detail in our Incredible Inventions workshop)

All contents of this site are the copyright of Balestra School Sport Ltd, 05903136, offering school workshops to schools in the following areas of the North West of England:  Manchester, Oldham, Wigan, Sefton, Trafford, Rochdale, St Helens, Warrington, Stockport, Bury, Knowsley, Halton, Tameside, Bolton, Liverpool, Salford, Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Staffordshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Sheffield, Barnsley, Kirklees, Calderdale, Bradford, Chester, Macclesfield, Vale Royal, Congleton, Knowsley, Sefton, Liverpool, Halton, Warrington, Blackburn with Darwen, Ellesmere Port & Neston, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Preston, Rossendale, South Ribble, Ribble Valley, West Lancashire, Chorley, Mansfield,

What was the first man-made object to fly?

inventions-workshop-launching-glider

Eventually, after a long series of inventions such as kites, hot air balloons and gliders, it was Orville and Wilbur Wright, famously known as the ‘Wright Brothers’, who first managed to achieve powered, manned flight.

What was the first powered, manned flight?

In 1903, after years of patience and testing, their aeroplane, the Wright Flyer, Orville took off at Kittyhawk sands in the USA for a flight of twelve seconds.  Although it was short, they knew they had finally achieved the dream of not just themselves, but of all mankind.  

The reason that fateful first flight worked and the reason planes still work today is because of an 18th century scientist called Bernoulli, who developed something called ‘Bernoulli’s principle’ which explains how planes fly.  

 

After many experiments he discovered that when a wing moved forward through the air it created a force called lift, due to changes in air pressure, when the air above the wing speeds up and reaches the back of the wing faster than the air underneath the wing .  This means that the air underneath has more air pressure, which pushes the wing up, enabling flight.  When you put this together with another force called thrust (discussed in the forces article and in our inventions workshop) a plane takes flight.

So how do heavy planes actually fly?

bernoullis principle

Every great invention such as the magnificent Saturn V moon rocket can only be created because of the many smaller inventions that went before it.  In the case of the Saturn V, the rocket technology used in its five gigantic F1 motors was first tested in rocket powered aeroplanes flown by a certain young pilot called Neil Armstrong who would go on to be the first man to walk on the moon.

So what has this got to do with the flight to The Moon?

But of course, it is not only rockets that came from the Wright brothers first flight, because the technology developed steadily until today, when you can hop on a plane right now to almost any destination around the world and be there within hours (though you should probably tell your parents first).

 

There’s just one last thing that you might be interested to know before you go.  Sixty six years after Orville Wright first took that first twelve second powered flight, Neil Armstrong completed the journey of the aeroplane from glider to rocket by taking a small container from his space suit pocket and placing it on the moon.  Inside it was two pieces of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s original Wright flyer, thus completing a journey that they could only have dreamed of and would have been so proud to have been a part.

rocket-launch

All contents of this site are the copyright of Balestra School Sport Ltd, 05903136, offering school workshops to schools in the following areas of the North West of England:  Manchester, Oldham, Wigan, Sefton, Trafford, Rochdale, St Helens, Warrington, Stockport, Bury, Knowsley, Halton, Tameside, Bolton, Liverpool, Salford, Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Staffordshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Sheffield, Barnsley, Kirklees, Calderdale, Bradford, Chester, Macclesfield, Vale Royal, Congleton, Knowsley, Sefton, Liverpool, Halton, Warrington, Blackburn with Darwen, Ellesmere Port & Neston, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Preston, Rossendale, South Ribble, Ribble Valley, West Lancashire, Chorley, Mansfield,