Spread Your Wings
We can lift ourselves out of ignorance. We can find ourselves as creatures of excellence, intelligence and skill. We can learn to fly!
Richard Bach’s words from the timeless Jonathan Livingston Seagull speak to much more than soaring through the clouds. They also are significant in the field of education and the way we live our lives.
These past few weeks have been filled with the study of wings and flight here at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal School.
Fourth and 5th grade students used their Makerspace to design and build bird feeders to be placed around the campus as part of their ornithology unit.
Environmental Science students explored the habits of bats and their special sense of echolocation, also called bio-sonar.
First graders were excited to meet Hermes, an eastern screech owl, as part of a classroom visit from the education friends at Ellen Trout Zoo. The students were learning about birds, their habitats and life cycles.
Kindergarten students created wind ribbons to gauge the strength and force of wind gusts.
One of the more amazing learning opportunities in our studies took flight at the Angelina County Airport.
Upper School students toured and enjoyed a ride in a Vintage 1928 Ford Tri-motor 4 AT-B owned by Dee and Jennifer Winston.
Leonardo DaVinci recognized the allure of the skies, “when once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward for there you have been and there you will long to return.”
This was certainly true with our children and their parents as the Winston family shared their love for the skies. The view from the clouds allowed our students to gain perspective of a much larger world than our own neighborhoods.
Children could see how pilots use many varied skills to operate the huge piece of machinery. It was amazing to see the combination of skills utilized to attain that effortless glide through the skies. The knowledge necessary to determine the correct combination of wind force and turbine power to allow a 13,499 take-off weight capable machine to soar effortlessly among the clouds is no small accomplishment.
One of the lasting lessons was recognizing that practice in math and science pays off big time when it is used in gauging fuel amounts needed per trip, charting routes and calculating landings.
Skills learned in classrooms through daily instruction in schools fit perfectly with the ability to become part of the flight process as adults; whether as a pilot, flight controller or ground crew.
Orville and Wilbur Wright found success by working in their shop using printing presses, bicycles, motors and other machinery. From 1990 until December 1903 they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots. They collected data and designed a homemade wind tunnel.
Regardless of their failures, they never slowed in their work to develop the first heavier than air machine to achieve sustained flight with a pilot aboard. They had no instruction guide. Equipped with a vision and their knowledge and willingness to continue through trials and failures to attain success, this curious duo used innovation, critical thinking and questioning fueled by enthusiasm to attain success.
Bill Gates, a modern-day visionary, describes the resulting impact of the morning on Kill Devil Hill in South Carolina as the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing.
The airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas and values together.
A day at the airport was a day of great adventure and even greater learning. What started out as a generous offer to tour one of only six planes of this type still in operation, as part of our STEAM lesson, became a learning experience. Students garnered life lessons.
If manipulating air movement can lift an airplane that is heavier than air, there is a world of possibilities in the most unlikely of situations.
Knowledge, hard work and ingenuity can make the seemingly impossible, totally possible. Studying winged creatures, recognizing the power of nature and enjoying a ride in a 1928 airplane culminated in outstanding learning experiences and life lessons.
Dr. Sherry Durham
SCES Head of School