Airplane store

October 12, 2011

Lloyd, School

Yesterday was “All School Test Day” at Lincoln Lutheran. It’s a bit of a misnomer. The 8th – 11th graders take tests, the 12th graders have a retreat, the 6th graders have a normal day of school and the 7th graders do whatever I think up for them to do.

For the past 8 years I’ve taught them how to play chess, but over the years that has gone from a full day to a half day, to this year, when we would only have 140 minutes. So we had to do something else.

We did a little ‘airplane building company’ simulation. Everyone started out with $200 and they could buy paper (a quarter sheet was $100), paperclips ($50 small and $100 large) , tape ($50 per inch) and a variety of other items. Then they built their plane, tested it in the hallway and brought it to the gym to fly it.

At the gym they could fly it for distance (each yard got them $100) or for hang time (each second earned them $100). They could only fly each plane once, so after they earned some money it was back to the store to buy more supplies. Lather, Rinse and Repeat as needed and soon you’d have enough money to buy a full size piece of paper ($700), a pair of scissors ($1000) or the plans to make a different sort of airplane ($400 – $2,400).

Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and the top 6 companies got prizes. We had two groups this year and we split them by gender. We’ve never done that before, and it seemed to work really well. There was also a prize for the Most Artistic planes. When the boys group was up, there were 3 entries; the girls had 20 entries.

I was a little surprised that the girls liked it so much, but Lauren pointed out that there was shopping involved.

Update: Here are the files:


About Lloyd

Lloyd Sommerer is a middle/high school teacher who likes to build websites, read books, grow beards, make fun of Lauren’s prototypes and eat the sauce of the picante.

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10 Responses to “Airplane store”

  1. Brad Said on:

    That is a brilliant idea! I am going to steal it some day.


  2. Lauren Said on:

    I just hope that those airplanes were recycled when it was over. You’d be amazed at how much scrap metal is just thrown out nowadays.


  3. Peggy Said on:

    Excellent fun activity!

    Did they lose any money for the 100 plane pile up? Or was safe flying not endorsed.


    • Lloyd Said on:

      we ended up firing the air traffic controller about halfway through the period. After that we didn’t kill nearly as many passengers.


  4. Kim Said on:

    Here is an activity I like to share with my undergrads. I would love to take a class and have them try it, but Henzlik turned their gym into a technology center.


  5. Kristi Said on:

    What’s the “Pirate’s Secret”?

    The balance sheet looks complicated.

    You don’t have any stats on the day? What was the longest flight time?


    • Lloyd Said on:

      If I recall correctly, the Pirate’s Secret was a pretty standard paper airplane. Some of the plans were for rings and other oddities that the students might not come up with.

      In practice we simplifies what we did for the balance sheet to same some time since we only had one teacher in the store and one on the flight deck. If we had more adults or more time it would have worked better.

      Flight times were never very good. I think the longest was 10 (rather quick) seconds. Distance was better with some planes crossing three quarters of the gym.


  6. Jane Sommerer Said on:

    Sounds like such fun. Wish I could join your class. Do you remeber the 1st plane you ever made??


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