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Wright Brothers' Flying Machine

Viewing Ideas

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Before Watching

  1. Discuss with students the meaning of the following terms: control surfaces, wing warping, elevator, rudder, and aileron.

    • control surfaces: sections of the plane that can be moved to change the direction of flight

    • wing warping: a concept first developed by the Wright brothers that allows control of the up-and-down movement of a plane's wing tips to roll the plane right or left

    • elevator: horizontal flaps on tail that control pitch

    • rudder: vertical flap on the tail that provides yaw control

    • aileron: control surface that allows rolling to the right or left

  2. To build an airplane, the Wright brothers studied existing technology—gliders and boat propellers—modified it, tested it, and modified it again. Organize students into three groups and have each group take notes on one of the following: observations the Wright brothers learned from studying existing machines, ideas the brothers gathered from other scientists, and new designs the brothers developed.

After Watching

  1. Have students review their notes and discuss how the Wright brothers learned to build a flying machine. What did they learn from studying existing machines? What ideas did they gather from scientists of their day? What new designs did they develop?

  2. How has the invention of the airplane influenced the history of the past century? How has it changed people's lives? (Examples include changing the nature of warfare, permitting easier exchange of goods, and making long-distance travel easier and more affordable.)

Teacher's Guide
Wright Brothers' Flying Machine
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