Hovercraft Project touches down at Millard Fillmore Elementary
May 24, 2019 – Fifth-graders at Millard Fillmore Elementary weren’t exactly walking on cloud nine Thursday, but they came close. The students spent the day participating in the Hovercraft Project – a hands-on exercise that leverages principles of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) by teaching students how to build, test and operate hovercrafts.
According to Matthew Chase, a former teacher who now operates Chase Educational Consulting and The Hovercraft Project with his family, the activity works because it empowers students.
“We wanted to get kids involved in education and learning, and the best way we found to do that is to give them a set of problems to solve, the tools to solve them and then, as an adult, step out of the way,” Mr. Chase said.
Chase said he and his family spend about five months of the year on the road in their RV, visiting dozens of schools in the eastern states.
During the course of a single school day, students work in teams as Chase shows them how to construct a hovercraft using simple materials that could be found in any hardware store, including leaf-blowers and plastic sheeting. He then guides them through a series of steps to test and evaluate their crafts, make changes to increase performance, ride them and compete against other teams.
Before the competitions began – to see whose hovercraft would glide the farthest across the MFE gym floor – Chase asked the students how they’d measure distance without a measuring tape or yardstick. Another problem to solve. Their answers: Use their feet, their strides or the full length of someone’s prone body.
Watch the video below to see their hovercrafts in motion.