4 Forces of Flight

DSC_0768I’m looking forward to so many things with my upcoming adventure:  Talking with mushers, presenting to schools in Alaska, seeing the dogs and on and on.  Another top thing on my list is flying with the Iditarod Air Force.  In a previous blog, I shared a simple lesson on surface area.  Attached here are a few more lessons covering the 4 forces of flight – lift, weight, thrust and drag.  Students made the discovery that Dogsleds use 3 of the 4 forces while racing – see if your students can also figure it out :-).

DSC_0769Once again, you can get as complicated as you want with the lessons depending on how how deep you want to go in the classroom with your students.  Using flight in the classroom, like the Iditarod, is a great motivator.  Enjoy!

Parachutes & Drag

Wing Shape & Lift

Air Pressure & Lift

Illuminations Rescue Mission Game

Illuminations Rescue Mission Game.2

Illuminations Rescue Mission Game.3

Talking Iditarod

DSC_1177Friday, January 25, I was given the opportunity to share the Iditarod with all the classes at my school.  Students and teachers at the Waupaca Learning Center (WLC) listened as I explained about the race, dogs, gear and the Teacher on the Trail™ program (I think they now realize I’m not a musher).  They had great questions and their enthusiasm was palpable.  All DSC_1142students from Pre-K thru 4th grade demonstrated our “Rascal Way” as they quietly and politely listened to my presentation.

At the end of the presentation a student from each class drew the name of the musher their class will follow during the race.  For this year’s race we will have classrooms representing checkpoints (pictures will be coming soon) and students will move their mushers to each checkpoint as they race through the school.

DSC_1153I work in the best school with the best teachers.  Thanks for letting me share my passion.

Senses of Snow


Students from Wisconsin and the northern states that have snow, know snow.  But until we talked about the physical properties of snow, they took it for granted as simply snow.  Snow can be very different.  The snow I chose for our investigation in a recent Science lesson on matter was light, fluffy snow.  The snow on the ground right now (in this -35 degree F weather) resembles ice chunks.  It is said that Eskimos have 50 words for snow – this has been disputed as urban legend, but then came this recent article from the Washington Post titled “There Really Are 50 Eskimo Words For Snow“.  Personally, I can see how there can be 50 or more words for snow because of all the differences.

DSC_1119Senses of Snow  The lesson has to do with describing snow using the 5 senses.  Middle School and High School students could do research on the 50 words for snow.  Whether there are 50 words for snow or just one, I have three words – bring it on.

Dog Care Brochure With the Help of Sanka W. Dog

Earlier in December I wrote about having students create a brochure in PrintShop2 to educate people about the Idtiarod.  The brochures turned out great and students learned a lot about different aspects of the Iditarod.

My friend, Sanka W. Dog at Iditarod.com just wrote an article called Healthy, Happy Dogs – Ten Tips.  It reminded me of the brochure my students created last Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 9.31.39 PMyear about dog care.  After doing some research, they created by hand a colorful, creative tri-fold informational brochure.  If you are looking for new ideas, create a Dog Care brochure using the tips from Sanka W. Dog.  If you don’t have Print Shop, try the Printing Press at ReadWriteThink,  It’s a quick, easy way to create informational documents for students of all ages.  If you don’t have access to technology, do like my class did last year and color it by hand.  No matter how you choose to publish, creating a brochure or flyer is a fun way to learn and inform.

The Parka

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My time on the Iditarod Trail is getting closer.  I have been purchasing base layer items to keep me warm and I’ve been planning my packing strategy.  What arrived yesterday at my house, however, made me realize that this is really going to happen.  The parka.  Of course I brought it to school to let everyone try it on.  My students loved it and had a blast trying on – and swimming in – a beautiful, warm Teacher on the Trail parka.  Thank you Iditarod Trail Committee for everything!

Flying With The Iditarod Air Force

When some people think of me being the Teacher on the Trail, they think of me on a dog sled racing along.  Now I have an adventurous spirit – but not that adventurous.  I will actually be flying to different checkpoints along the trail with the Iditarod Air Force, a group of pilot volunteers who help make the race happen.  According to front_page2the IAF Statistics Page on their website, “Our 31 volunteer pilots collectively bring 743 years and 420,000 hours of flying experience to the table.  Click on the picture at the left to check out their website for more stats, information and beautiful pictures.  I’m very excited about flying with this group of dedicated volunteers in remote Alaska and know I’ll be in good hands.

In my school district, part of the 3rd grade Science Curriculum is Flight.  Third Graders learn the history and science of flight in a comprehensive unit.  We are fortunate to live near Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the home of the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum and yearly fly-in.  Our unit culminates in a field trip to the museum – a highlight of our Third Grade year.  Many of the flight lessons I will be sharing originate from their Education Department.

One of our first activities is to learn about surface area.  I’ve attached a simple lesson plan that teaches the concept of gliding and dropping.  It’s time to Take Flight!  Surface Area

Aurora Borealis


I love it when on that rare occasion I start a project with my class, finish it, and actually get a bulletin board up on the same day.  That happened Friday with my DSC_1067lesson on the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.  Explaining the Aurora can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.  There are several websites in the Lesson Plan with explanations of how they appear in the night sky.  Students loved the art project that went with the lesson and we have chalk handprints on dark surfaces around the classroom to prove it.  I found the art project portion of the lesson on the Iditarod website years ago.  I don’t have the name of the creator, but thank you.    Aurora Borealis

In Wisconsin we have an occasional glimpse of the Aurora Borealis in the night sky.  I’m looking forward to many things during my time on the Iditarod Trail and something on the top of my list is to experience the Northern Lights in Alaska.  Hopefully the sun and sky will cooperate.