Engineering students at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies (The Center) took their learning on the road for a special field trip to iFly in Charlotte, NC, where they were introduced to indoor sky diving. Seventeen students attended the STEM event, where they learned about the principles of aerodynamics in a classroom setting and experienced them live in a wind tunnel.
iFly is an indoor skydiving facility with a modern closed-loop wind tunnel capable of generating winds over 150 miles per hour. iFly offers a STEM education activity in which students learn about lift, drag, and Newton’s laws of motion. Taking measurements to determine their area and mass, calculations are performed to determine their individual terminal velocity. Students then experience indoor skydiving, where they get to establish their actual terminal velocity with the safety of an instructor in the wind tunnel with them. After completing the terminal velocity portion of their wind tunnel experience, the instructor provided a “High Flight” experience in which they flew above the visible section of the wind tunnel.
After returning from the trip, students completed a survey regarding their experience. All students enjoyed the experience and thought that it would be a great field trip to include in all future aerospace classes. Ryan Riddle stated, “Although instruction in the classroom is necessary, being able to see and, in this instance, physically experience STEM principles makes them tangible and ever more enjoyable.”
The Aerospace Engineering Teacher at The Center, Dr. Martin Cwiakala, organized the trip after he experienced an indoor sky diving lesson in Elpaso Texas, last summer. Cwiakala stated, “After experiencing this instruction, I knew that visiting iFly would create a lifelong memory for my students.”