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Earning their wings

Seventh-graders use math, science to understand flying

Steamboat Springs seventh grader Conner Jones throws a wooden model airplane toward a turf runway Wednesday at the Steamboat Springs Airport.
Matt Stensland

— The Hubba Bubba Babes landed safely at Jeffco Airport on Wednesday.

Sitting before a flight simulator at Bob Adams Field, Dani Perry, Jamie Heuston and Remi Helm got a feel for what life as a pilot might be like.

The Steamboat Springs Middle School seventh-graders took off from another Front Range airport and followed their instruments at the bottom of the computer screen, which helped guide them safely to Jeffco Airport.



The trio, which dubbed themselves the Hubba Bubba Babes, was selected randomly to attend Wednesday’s special “Spreading Wings” tour day at Steamboat Springs Airport.

Every student in Steamboat’s seventh grade class created a flight plan, but only several dozen randomly selected students took part in Wednesday’s field trip to the airport.



Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is conducting a tour of Colorado airports, inviting middle school students to participate in hands-on activities that build on skills they have been working on in classrooms.

Lisa Lorenz, a math and science teacher in Steamboat, showed off the textbook she is using in her classroom. Lorenz, who said she would love to obtain her pilot’s license, flipped to an entire unit devoted to math and science principles related to flying.

“Hands-on life correlations makes all the difference in the world,” Lorenz said. “The seventh grade theme for the year is heroes, and we are tying this in.”

The “Spreading Wings” tour is working to emphasize math and science in classrooms and to increase public awareness of aviation’s history and importance in Colorado.

The Steamboat students looked at real aircraft with former fighter pilot Ed Huber, who works with the “Spreading Wings” tours. Huber explained the flight instruments and how pilots use them. He also let the seventh-graders touch real planes and sit in the pilot and co-pilot seats.

“Airplanes fascinate people,” Huber said.

The seventh-graders were split into three groups and rotated through three stations. The other two stations involved more hands-on activities such as the flight simulator.

The students used the flight plans they created in class and followed those plans exactly.

The third station was created to help the students better understand how planes fly.

Local pilot Jim “Moose” Barrows helped the students construct simple model airplanes.

The students practiced throwing the models, trying to get them to fly straight and land safely on an artificial-turf runway. When a student’s plan went off course – as most did – they worked with Barrows to figure out how to adjust the wings or the rudder to correct the problem.

After several throws, seventh-grader Christian Poirot was the first in his group to safely land his model airplane. The accomplishment earned applause from Barrows.

The flight unit will continue in Lorenz’s class with other activities, giving students a chance to use real-life situations to learn more about math and science.


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