Dempsey students get glider advice from NASA


Dempsey Middle School’s “Learning Club” students spoke to engineers from NASA Wednesday after school to get advice on their glider projects.

Holly Tschakert, one of the instructors of the Dempsey Learning Club, said the students have been working on shoe-box gliders as part of NASA’s “Let It Glide” engineering design challenge. The challenge is to design a glider that includes an intact shoe-box that will not break upon impact. Students must also show improvement in the glide slope.

NASA’s guidelines for the project call for students to design a glider, test it and then improve it and test it again.

Tschakert said students involved in Dempsey Learning Club, an after-school program at Dempsey Middle School, got to video conference with three individuals from NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and ask them for advice on improving their glider designs.

The students spoke to Joy Cummings, the community project coordinator at the Glenn Research Center, along with NASA engineers Anthony Royce and Matthew Falker.

Students presented their designs and were given some direction from Royce and Falker, like building a stronger stabilizer to give the glider a more graceful flight or to add weight to the nose of the glider to prevent it from pitching up during flight.

Another group of students presented their glider, inspired by the X-wing from “Star Wars,” to Royce and Falker and asked if use an “X” formation for the wings was a good idea.

Royce and Falker laughed and said that, while more wings is generally a good idea and they are also “Star Wars” fans, the design has a few flaws and isn’t practical for the glider project.

Cummings also recommended students try to use masking tape instead of duct tape or Scotch Tape because masking tape is sturdy but lightweight. A few students said they would be revising their designs after speaking to the engineers.

Tschakert said NASA’s program has been a great opportunity and resource for the Dempsey Learning Club students.

“It’s terrific,” Tschakert said. “It’s a lot of career exploration. They are developing kind of skills and self-awareness they need to be successful.”

Dempsey Learning Center students hold up their glider prototype and ask NASA engineers to give them advice on how to improve it. Learning Center students hold up their glider prototype and ask NASA engineers to give them advice on how to improve it.

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG

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