History of flight can be integrated very well in the general history of the humanity and is a very good example of interdisciplinary learning. Flying is one of the first human dreams and it is present in one form or another in every time period, at every population. With a little imagination and patience, you can expose your kid to many concepts related to the study of history. You can talk about the legends of different people around the world, how did they portrait flying in those stories and how did they tried to imitate flying creatures they saw around them. For example, you can talk about the legend of Icarus and his failure in attempting to fly with wings glued with wax. Observe how was flying represented in the ancient civilization.
A very exciting subject I have used was the mysterious drawings from Nazca dessert that can be seen only from high altitude. Who made them? Why? How? Was it possible that they have used a hot air balloon, long before the Montgolfier brothers in Europe thought about this? Why do they point in the same direction? These are questions that will fire up your child imagination. History will become interesting and he might look for additional information online or at the library. Encourage him to do that and let him discover the facts. As with the science experiments, guide him through questions and let him come with the answers.
As you can see, it will be very easy to insert in his quest, elements from another discipline. I have already mentioned the hot air balloons as an excellent start to learn something about thermodynamics. You can touch a little bit of geology if you will study how were those drawings made and why they have resisted so long without damage. Use your imagination and keep an open eye on all the possible avenues. As I mentioned before, do not push the child. If he will get suspicious about that, you might get the opposite reaction. Thinking that you tricked him in something, he might refuse, for a while, to participate in this little game. Take it easy, give him only some clues and suggestions, explain him more when he will ask for and, more important, have fun together.
You can continue your journey along the history of flight with many other examples. One of my favorites is Leonardo Da Vinci. Due to his encyclopedic approach in study you can use his work in many ways. Studying is life you will give your child a model of perseverance combined with talent and dedicated effort. Through his work you can touch many fields,from anatomy to arts, from engineering to biology just to mention a few. I bought a wonderful kit (“The Da Vinci Kit”) which is an interactive exploration of this original Renaissance Man and includes tools and activities like restoring “The Last Supper” paint, building a detailed model of a cathedral and also build a model of one of his flying machine. Here is a photo of this model:
Working on this project I was able to refer to natural sciences and talk about insects, birds, mammals and reptiles that can fly. That`s when I had the idea of the
project in which George learned about gliding and thermals.
Modern times brings a new chapter in history of flight. New machines, new technologies and new people! From Otto Lilienthal glider to the Space Era, the evolution of aviation was very alert. All these changes are great resources for projects related to the history of aviation, in particular and to the history in general. Come back later to Aviation for Kids for new updates.