Balsa wood, tape and glue—it’s an uplifting way to learn about physics and aerodynamics. That is precisely what approximately 150 high school students accomplished hand-launching gliders at the recent Boeing Engineering Challenge in St. Louis. Students worked with their physics teachers and Boeing engineer mentors throughout the school year to construct their gliders. “We created this hands-on learning opportunity to compliment the student's classroom experiences, engage them with Boeing Mentors, and bring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to life,” said Matthew Daniels, manager of Education Relations.
Students put their hard work to the test at Washington University’s Field House. Gliders filled the air with the goal of achieving the straightest path, longest distance and most hang time. Innovative and creative designs also were in the running for medals and trophies. While everyone couldn’t take home an award, they can take the skills they’ve learned and apply them to their schoolwork and future careers. “They might be the next engineer of tomorrow,” said Boeing engineer and volunteer mentor Tom Brandt. Brandt added that seeing the joy in the students’ faces when they build and accomplish their goals is one of the primary reasons he has been volunteering at the Boeing Engineering Challenge for the past seven years. The number seven also has another significant meaning this year. A seventh grader became the first middle school student to participate in the challenge. Check out the video to learn about his unique journey and how he discovered when the going gets tough, the tough get building something better!