In “P-47 and the Double Wasp Engine,” fighter pilot Benjamin Cassiday emphatically states, “It was an aircraft that could get you home.” While adrenaline filled the veins of these courageous WWII pilots, likely there was no greater rush than when they touched down on their home runway.
Driven by the Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp air-cooled radial engine, the huge P-47 was able to successfully compete against much smaller adversaries. Find out how in P-47 and the Double Wasp Engine—one of 10 posted videos in the Chronicles of Courage series. The 20-video series from the partnership of NBC Learn and Flying Heritage Collection uses the collection’s WWII airplanes and aviation technology as their focal point.
Like several of the NSTA-developed lesson plans in this series, this plan gives you ideas for prompting students to use paper airplanes as their experimental tool. You’ll see an example of a possible design that could explore the relationship between power and weight whereby students add weight to the wings or fuselage, change the power generated by the rubber-band propeller, or use different sized propellers. Internet references are included to support students as well.
With such an investigation, are you concerned you won’t have the right answer for students? That’s one of the beauties of engineering design investigations—you don’t have to because there is no “right answer.” The best design is the one that performs optimally given the criteria and constraints. Chances are more than one group will end up with optimal design solutions. If so, give students a chance to critique all of the solutions and make claims based on evidence about which one they think is “best.” Witness the effects of your students’ adrenaline as they enthusiastically design and fly their paper airplane solutions.
Chronicles of Courage: Stories of Wartime and Innovation “P-47 and the Double Wasp Engine” explores how the much larger and heavier P-47 Thunderbolt and its extremely powerful engine allows the hulking fighter to be competitive at all altitudes.
STEM Lesson Plan—Adaptable for Grades 7–12
Chronicles of Courage: Stories of Wartime and Innovation “P-47 and the Double Wasp Engine” provides strategies for extracting information from video content and challenging students to explore further plus support for building science literacy through reading and writing.