SUNSET — Kate Jeffrey discovered the propellers on the Wright plane actually went on the back instead of the front so they could help push the contraption into the air.
The eighth-grader at Sunset Junior High School recently made her own Wright flyer model that is now on display at Ogden’s Union Station along with projects from her classmates.
“I thought the whole invention was fascinating,” Kate said. “The plane I made was out of Styrofoam, toothpicks, hot glue and duct tape. The most challenging part was building it, because it had to be exact.”
The students in Jennifer Baker’s United States honors history class have spent several weeks learning about inventors and creating their own models. In October, they took the UTA bus and FrontRunner to Union Station so they could get research ideas. With the help of Diana Azevedo, head of exhibits at Union Station, the students got several ideas about their projects.
“The students really went everywhere with the themes they chose,” Baker said. “Several were very interested in the Browning family and their contributions to Utah and the nation and did projects on various aspects of the Brownings.”
Diana Michelsen built a model of Walt Disney’s multiplane camera, an animation camera used in Disney cartoons from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937 to “The Little Mermaid” in 1989.
“My dad and I started the building process about a week into January,” Diana said. “We built our model out of wood, glass and shelving parts. I learned a lot about early animation techniques and the fact that so much work was put into what we see as a simple movie. Each one is truly a piece of art.”
Trevor Griffin did his project on Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper.
“I chose him because more people need to know the inventor that changed agriculture,” he said.
Trevor said the most challenging part of his project was summarizing all of the information he gathered.
“There was too much to put in the presentation, so I shortened it,” he said. “I think the project makes learning more interesting. This kind of project gets people to have some fun and to be creative while researching.”
Baker has found that when students extend their learning they become experts on their topics. They can answer an array of questions because they’ve spent a lot of time researching.
After being displayed at the school, the projects were moved to the Union Station, where they will remain until the end of February.
“The entire eighth grade and some other students came and toured the exhibits,” Baker said. “The honors students acted as docents and tour guides and really enjoyed sharing what they learned. Another great part about this project is because they are exhibiting in real space, they put a lot of effort into their works.”
Baker hopes her students will realize how much they can learn if they really work hard and that they can present their learning in a variety of ways, from models and artwork to the written word.
“I hope the public realizes the great things we are doing in public schools and Sunset Junior High in particular,” she said. “Sometimes public schools are vilified unfairly. We do a lot of amazing things. Great things can happen when schools and community partners work together.”