Press Release

STEAM Takes Flight at Cerro Villa Middle School

Orange, CA – September 12, 2018 - Thanks to a grant from Villa Park Rotary, the spirit of the Wright Brothers is coming to life in room 204 at Cerro Villa Middle School, where members of the school's Makers Club have set out to build a full-scale replica of the 1902 Wright Brothers Glider.  

In addition to using precision artisanship to measure, design, cut, bend, and shape metal and wood, students will have to learn to sew, and perform calculations to engineer the wings with just the right camber to create lift.  They will also need to research modern resources to use in place of some of the specialty materials originally used by the Wright Brothers, such as long pieces of spruce wood for the wing lengths and ash wood for the ribs of their glider, and custom-fabricate special brackets.

“All told, the wings will be 32 feet from wing tip to wing tip, and 5 feet wide, so we’ll have to build it in 8-foot sections in order to store it on a daily basis,” said Makers Club Coordinator and CTE/STEM Teacher Dan Baker.  “This means we will have to modify the Wright Brothers’ design, and they didn’t leave any detailed blueprints, so we will have to figure a lot of it out as we go along.  Regardless, we think we can build something very close to the original and we are all very excited about it.”

Once assembled, the glider will be flown as a very large kite, allowing students to conduct lift and payload tests, as the Wright Brothers did.

Baker was inspired by the Canyon High School Aviation program to add a flight simulator to his middle school CTE/STEM lab, leading to his interest in the Wright Brothers and the idea to have students build a replica glider. His class will be the first in California, and the third in the nation, to take on this engineering feat.

“I personally can't wait to see wing warping in action, which is the breakthrough technology that the Wrights discovered that made absolute control of the aircraft possible,” Baker added. “Nobody remembers wing warping anymore because it evolved into the ailerons we see today on airplanes.”

Any community members with experience in steam-bending wood or with a background in aviation engineering are welcome to contact daniel.baker@orangeusd.org for volunteer opportunities.

###

The Orange Unified School District educates approximately 28,000 students in the Cities of Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and unincorporated county areas.  The school district, founded in 1953, encompasses 108 square miles.  The District office is located at 1401 N. Handy Street, Orange, California.