Students fly their planes down the hall to see how far they go.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Michael Arace remembers attending educational workshops provided by General Electric as a child and it inspired him to become an engineer.
Now a lead mechanical engineer at General Dynamics, he's hoping to inspire children to pursue careers in the field.
On Friday, he and nine other engineers from General Dynamics spent their day off teaching seventh-graders at Reid Middle School how to build rubber band-propelled airplanes and explained the science behind it.
"A lot of these kids may be thinking what they want to do in the future," Arace said.
The group of engineers taught Mary Yamosky's classes working with some 90 students. The students build their own planes, learned the science, and then launched them.
"We study energy and airplanes have potential and kinetic energy so it seemed a good fit," Yamosky said. "It's very engaging for the students because it is hands-on. We do a lot of activities and that's the best way to learn, by doing."
General Dynamics sponsors a program each year. Last year, the employees helped build mousetrap cars. The company bought all of the supplies for the rubber band planes while the staff donated their time to teach.
But they weren't just giving up one day. It turned out the planes were a little more labor intensive than could be accomplished in one 40-minute class.
"The kit was a little complicated," Arace said. "We got together one night, had pizza, and put together these wings."
The students then assembled the rest of the aircraft, one for each, during class. At the end, the students walked away with a gift bag from General Dynamics.
"It's a great thing that General Dynamics does this," Arace said.
For Yamosky, the company's participation helps strengthen her teaching. The work shows the students that the lessons do have real-world applications. And the students get to learn more about what General Dynamics does so that maybe one day they'll pursue a career there.
"I think it is important for kids to see other adults, other than teachers, interested in engineering concepts," she said. "It's a great collaboration."
While the students may have learned some lessons about engineering, they also had fun seeing whose plane could travel farther down the hall.
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