Before the first airplane, the scientists and engineers who were developing “lighter-than-air” aircraft looked to parachutes and gliders to meet engineering challenges. It is from these early beginnings that aviation and space flight have become what they are today.
A dandelion seed is a perfect example of nature’s parachute and glider.
The full comprehensive NASA unit (preschool through early elementary) investigates gliders in nature; balloons, parachutes and kites; helicopters and airplanes; the impacts of aviation through children’s literature; and science and engineering activities.
LESSON PLAN: Gliders in Flight
This lesson (created by NASA) is based on the book The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony. It includes an engaging demonstration, inquiry and discovery experiments, and writing practice for letters “F” and “G.”
Suggested Grade Level: K-3
- The book The Dandelion Seed
- Images of animals and plant seeds that fly/glide
- Maple seeds (2-3 per student)
- Paper clips
- Crepe paper or streamers
- Whirly-bird template (provided as free download)
- Go to NASA’s Teacher’s Guide: With You When You Fly: Aeronautics Pre-K, available as a pdf download.
- Follow the detailed instructions on pages 8-23 to do one or more of the activities.
Taking It Further:
For more adventures with Dandelion Seed read The Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream.
COMMON CORE STANDARDS (ELA K-3)
- Key Ideas and Details: K.1, 1.1, 2.1
- Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: K.7, 1.7, 2.7
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS (DCI K-3)