SOAR Afterschool Program Takes Flight

  • SOAR Takes Off!

    Sayville Afterschool Aeronautical Engineering program for Elementary Students

    Tossing paper airplanes was only the beginning.


    Energized Fourth- and Fifth-grade students have been powering enthusiasm for an introductory eight-week afterschool program—the new SOAR Program—aimed at interesting Sayville elementary students in aeronautical engineering. So far, it has taken off like a rocket!


    Getting it off the ground was done with funding from the Sayville Educational Foundation to promote S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering and Math).  However, SOAR program instructors Melinda Moran and Maria Brown were thrilled with the momentum and expressed their amazement after meeting with 27 extraordinarily eager young students from all three elementary schools at the Middle School for their afterschool sessions.


    To launch the concepts of flight, SOAR began by teaching the students about the principles of aerodynamics and used paper airplanes to demonstrate. After learning numerous folds, the students worked in teams, guided by High School Honor Society Science student volunteers, to create their own paper airplanes, experiment with innovations, and accomplish specific tasks. Some plane designs would need to sustain prolonged “hover time.” Other designs would need to reach maximum distance and accuracy in flight.


    In what other school environment would tossing paper airplanes be so highly encouraged? In this program, it has been a scientific way for students to test the shapes and sizes of their designs.


    In addition, two guest instructors provided further insights. In one session, Pilot Kenneth Kranz who brought his model airplanes and a flying simulator as interactive props, spoke to the children about his flying experiences and fielded their impressive questions about the physics of flying. The students were fascinated by the technical aspects of flying a plane and Mr. Kranz was equally pleased to share his knowledge and joy for flying.  


    In another session, William Vojir, Aerospace Engineer who worked at Grumman for over 40 years, shared his greatest experiences with the Lunar Module (LM), as he was a member of the Bethpage mission support team for every mission including LM-1 (unmanned), LM-3 (first manned mission earth orbit), all the lunar landings and Apollo 13.


    In their spare time on a Saturday in January, fifteen SOAR students enjoyed an optional field trip at the Cradle of Aviation Museum where they competed in the Annual Delta Dart Balsa Airplane Competition. During the competition, the students worked in teams of three to build a Delta Dart plane and then competed for distance, accuracy, landing, and flight time.  On their fledgling attempt, the SOAR students took home Third Place trophies and medals for “most trips made to the repair station”! 


    “It was a fun way to spend a Saturday for both students and teachers alike!” Program instructor Mrs. Brown said with a very proud smile. “The students will have a chance to show off all that they have learned and their designed planes,” Maria Brown continued, “at a competition that will be held at Sayville Middle School on Saturday March 16th from 10am-12pm. Students, families and friends are also invited.”


    The SOAR program’s competition, scheduled for March 16th, is expected to be a high-flying presentation of fun with physics for all who attend!