Engineers from John Deere Ottumwa Works were helping students build planes, not hay forage equipment, on Friday at Liberty Elementary.
Amber Pargmann is the site coordinator for John Deere Ottumwa Works Inspire and also sits on the Govenor’s STEM Council, representing the South Central Region. She reached out to schools this fall inviting them to allow John Deere to assist with STEM activities (science, technology, engineering, and math).
On Friday, every second grader studied airplane design. Students learned about “drag,” “lift,” and “thrust.” Their assignment: make a paper airplane and then measure the distance it flew.
Five John Deere engineers, including Pargmann, were on hand to help classrooms with the lesson. She compared the Wright Brothers to their paper folding activity. “Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time,” she said. “That is what engineering is all about.”
Students collaborated on various plane designs. They had five minutes to complete their design. Some were thin and sleek, others had a more bulky design. Those who had extra time after folding their planes decorated them with markers.
Students lined up to test their designs. After launching, they used a long tape measure to determine flight distance, and then charted their results. The first plane tested measured 22 feet but most averaged six to ten feet of flight.
“We are grateful to John Deere for providing adults to serve as models of real applications of math and science,” said Dawn Sievertsen, Liberty principal.