Rushmore Avenue Engineering Club Puts Ideas in Flight

This semester, fifth- and sixth-grade students in Rushmore Avenue School’s Engineering Club in the Carle Place School District have been taking an in-depth look at astronomy and aerospace engineering. Under the direction of club adviser and sixth-grade teacher Jim Cunningham, the students have been studying and developing miniature parachutes.

“I was excited to see if my design would work – if I could actually get my parachute to fly,” said sixth-grader Max Buck, who used a paper airplane as the foundation of his design.

Prior to constructing their parachutes, the club read “Paulo’s Parachute Mission: An Aerospace Engineering Story,” which tells the story of Paulo and his rocket scientist parents. In the book, Paulo teams up with a new neighbor to design a parachute to help them drop fruit from trees in the forest. Conversations about the book sparked discussion about scientific concepts such as drag, lift and force.

“This experience encouraged students to think about a problem, come up with a solution, test that solution, re-evaluate it, and then go back to rethink and redesign their work,” said Cunningham. “That’s what engineering is about – taking science and putting it to work.”