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Author Topic: 1st Science Olympiad, Wright Stuff event  (Read 776 times)
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Jonoton
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« on: March 08, 2018, 10:01:30 AM »

Hello,

Last weekend I had the opportunity to be the event coordinator for the Wright Stuff event.
There were two teams which were able to fly controlled models - one going for around a minute and a half, the other the half minute mark.

Unfortunately, the other 7 teams experienced a myriad of issues, and I am afraid that they may not have a favorable view of their contest experience and the hobby.

These issues include:
 -aircraft damaged by wind between the car and the gym (no transport box, and 15-20 mph gusts Sad )
 -making do with Guillows sheet balsa wind-up toys
 -a very admirable but unsuitable attempt at a complete scratch-build model, to include what appeared to be a propeller sourced from a small battery powered fan
 -office supply rubber band motors
 -A pair of well built and thought out, tissue-covered models that lacked vertical stabilizers

In short, the majority of the field had no chance at making a timeable flight.

This was the first year for the event in this region, and my first experience with Science Olympiad.

Does this sound like a common Wright Stuff event? To be honest, the team which posted the 1.5m flight was far and away beyond my current abilities - But I know that, given a Saturday afternoon build class, the other teams would have been able to see their entries fly in a repeatable manner.

I guess the disappointment of the kids has just been bothering me a bit, and I am rambling.

Is there a solution? Do other regions try to coordinate build classes for teams which lack experienced mentors?
I would love to spend an afternoon doing a build class for Peck ROGs as a starting point a few months ahead of the competition (could leave a Blatter 40 kit for the students to complete on their own, too).

Anyways, thanks for reading, and good luck in your own competitions.

Jon

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Olbill
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2018, 10:10:44 AM »

The teams need mentors in order to do well and the mentors should have some indoor freeflight experience or at least some knowledge of indoor freeflight.

Or the students need to be so invested in the competition that they do the research needed to do well without outside help. With all the other pressures they have this isn't too likely.
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duration
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2018, 01:42:35 PM »

Jon,

It is not just Science Olympiad. Last weekend I was one of the judges for a Technical Students Association middle school catapult glider event.  Well over half the gliders had no dihedral! In addition to timing, we also processed all the models for wing, stab, and rudder maximum and minimum thickness, span, and chord; fuselage width, height, and length, and shark mouth size. About a dozen measurements in all. One measurement wrong meant a 20% score penalty. More than one was a disqualification. There was only one model with a single ding. If we had followed the rules ALL the other models would have been disqualified. We felt that it was more important for the students to fly than to be disqualified. After discussion with TSA staff, we allowed all to fly. I wrote up a one-page guide to be passed along to students via there teachers.

The high school rubber event was being held in the same gym. The range of model design and construction was about as wide as at SO event. The top fliers had accurately built models, were winding with torque meters, using good rubber, and stripping rubber as needed. One contestant had a model of her own design with carbon fiber wing leading and trailing edge and laser-cut diagonal ribs. (Yes, her school has a laser cutter.) Some of the other models didn't even get off the ground.

Mentoring matters.

Louis

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ceandra
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2018, 03:14:38 PM »

Jon:

Depending on the State and Region, your experience may not be all that uncommon.

In New Mexico, the experience at Regions is very similar. About 10 teams entered. My team took first with 2:34 (30' ceiling). Second was 15 seconds. Beyond that no planes "flew", and most brought something to get participation points/placement. State was a bit better with a few teams competitive. We took first with 1:52 in a 19' ceiling.

When I started 3 years ago (Div C wright stuff) I knew nothing. However, i am an R/C modeller (racing), and so I knew a little about aerodynamics. We progressed fast primarily because of kind help from several on this forum.

I have seen schools show up with FFM kits that cannot fly. This is a shame, because the kits are not cheap, but they are very good, and the instructions are more than complete. Unfortunately, many probably open the kit a week or two before the event, and never get to the flight trimming portion of the instructions.

Last year, one such team had a well built plane but it was not trimmed at all at Regions. I offered to spend a few sessions with them, and I taught them basic trimming and winding. The kids absolutely glowed when their creation flew! They took third at State because the room had drift and they hit the score board. This year, same school, same issue. However, they never got back to me until just before the State event, and I was out of town.

I plan to retire in the fall. One reason is to offer my services to a wider range of schools. I will have to contact the Regional event coordinator to get coach contact info. My plan will be to offer some building sessions (not certain if it will be kits or if I will kit something out), and then have rotating flying sessions at the gyms of the participating schools. Not certain what the event will be for HS, MS will probably be heli. My intent is to raise the competitiveness in the state, or at least the region, for schools that have an interest. When kids actually make something that works, well it sticks with them.

I agree, without a mentor it is difficult at best for the kids to do well in these events. Unfortunately, most public schools have one teacher as coach, and he/she hands out kits and assignments, and the kids are on their own. They typically have 4-5 events they study and build for, so WS is not given a lot of time or effort.

I have become the "flying events coach" for our team (a home school team that has both B and C). I look forward to new challenges with perhaps ELG, or maybe e-WS.

I strongly encourage you to contact your Regional organizers, and offer services to the schools. It is a very rewarding challenge!

Chuck

PS: My first year I ordered a handful of AMA Delta Darts. However, we got to building WS planes before they arrived, and they still sit. Not a bad starting point to teach build skills, but generally they do not fit the rules and are tiered when entered. One team had one this year, again, not trimmed. First year we built 12 planes, last year 4, this year 2, with one more on the bench for Nationals. So experience pays off, and mentorship brings that experience to a number of schools.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 03:40:42 PM by ceandra » Logged
Olbill
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2018, 04:23:12 PM »

Jon,

It is not just Science Olympiad. Last weekend I was one of the judges for a Technical Students Association middle school catapult glider event.  Well over half the gliders had no dihedral! In addition to timing, we also processed all the models for wing, stab, and rudder maximum and minimum thickness, span, and chord; fuselage width, height, and length, and shark mouth size. About a dozen measurements in all. One measurement wrong meant a 20% score penalty. More than one was a disqualification. There was only one model with a single ding. If we had followed the rules ALL the other models would have been disqualified. We felt that it was more important for the students to fly than to be disqualified. After discussion with TSA staff, we allowed all to fly. I wrote up a one-page guide to be passed along to students via there teachers.

The high school rubber event was being held in the same gym. The range of model design and construction was about as wide as at SO event. The top fliers had accurately built models, were winding with torque meters, using good rubber, and stripping rubber as needed. One contestant had a model of her own design with carbon fiber wing leading and trailing edge and laser-cut diagonal ribs. (Yes, her school has a laser cutter.) Some of the other models didn't even get off the ground.

Mentoring matters.

Louis



Louis
I ran one TSA state finals a few years ago and it was an awful experience. Average flight times for gliders were maybe 3-5 seconds. I think a couple of rubber models were in the 1-2 minute range and most would hardly fly. Apparently not much has changed since then.
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JasperKota
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2018, 06:23:50 PM »

Your experience is very common, especially at the regional level. Building events in general for many schools are seen as a wildcard and difficult, and so many focus more on their other study-oriented events. Even at the States level in NY last year, few teams broke a minute. I was interested and driven to do well in Wright Stuff last year, but I was without a mentor and had to do extensive research on my own. My school advisor had very limited experience with build events and had no more time than to arrange weekly meetings for the team to meet up after school.

It was frustrating, especially when my first plane turned sharply on its first test flight, crashed into the wall and broke the front propeller hook. As many before me mentioned, mentoring is so important. I would have had a much better experience earlier on if I had someone guiding me through the process -- online forums like Hippocket has been very enlightening and helpful, and I received tons of advice that improved my times dramatically. The problem is that not many people find the resources that are online.

Definitely, try to reach out to the local schools in the area and help out with the event. I haven't heard of anything in my region, and I'm sure other places lack experienced fliers as well! If you don't have contact with the regionals coordinator, most states have a Science Olympiad website online with the information.

P.S. Just curious - which state was this regional at?
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rogerl
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2018, 07:54:04 PM »

I have been mentoring the kids on our school districts Science Olympiad team for  7 years. I have been working with the flying events for 5 years. Without mentoring the kids are on their own to try to build something that will fly. I am a novice at all of the free flight airplanes but I have built the stick and tissue airplanes when I was a kid, I am 55 now, so I had at least some understanding of how to build the planes and how to make them fly. The majority of the kids today do not have any experience with building the balsa models. They do not know where to start building an airplane kit.

For the Wright Stuff events I have been working with Freedom Flight Models for the kits and the information on how to make them fly. Dave Zeiglar makes some very nice kits and is always willing to help solve problems over E-Mail. We are able to get the planes to fly for about 2 minutes which is very good for us. The biggest problem that we have is finding a place to test the planes. Science Olympiad runs from November thru March with most of the competitions happening January thru March. Trying to get time in the high school gym to test the planes is almost impossible. Science takes a distant back seat to sports anytime. And when we can get gym time the custodians will not shut off the HVAC. So you have a 7 gram plane flying in a tornado. The data you get is almost useless. The only time you can really test the planes is in the practice time before the event starts when the school has turned off the HVAC. Yes, the HVAC can be turned off when someone of authority tells the custodians to shut it off.

I guess what I am trying to say is yes, the kids need some mentoring to be successful. But even with mentoring it is difficult to find a place to fly the planes. The successful teams tend to have both. I really enjoy helping the kids build the planes and use my limited knowledge to help make them fly. It is magical to see a well trimmed plane just float thru the air and watching the faces of the kids as they see what they built fly. This is what brings me back year after year to work with the kids.

Roger L    
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SyLa-20871
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 12:04:55 PM »

I would like to echo what Roger L. stated.  This is my first year getting into Wright Stuff.  I have very limited knowledge but with the help of all the experts commenting, I am able to guide two Middle Schools into getting the correct panes to build and to start building.  Finding gym space/time is a real challenge and we basically take whatever we can get to trim the planes which has been auxillary gyms, squatting between gym events and any room with 10 ft ceiling.  The best piece of information I found is using partial motors to at least begin to get a feel of where the planes may fly.  The team I mentored got first place as a Junior Varsity team and they are now going to State.  To be honest, I was sweating it but happy with the results.  It is magical to see these planes fly.  I also observed the same thing as Jon did, 95% of teams really did not know what this was about.  It was a shame because I could see on their faces the disappointment when a real Wright Stuff was flown, not to mention shredded planes brought in unprotected from the outside.

Thank you to Chuck, Ol Bill, Jon Anderson, Don and a few others who directly answered questions or had some off topic subject that was relevant to building, winding, trimming for all of us newbies.  You stoked a fire and I will certainly be coming back to further develop this exciting hobby.

Lee O.
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jdpsloflyer
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2018, 02:11:26 PM »

I see that most of the replies to this thread are similar. 

My experience as a coach is similar in that there are few mentors in my region able to coach the aeronautical build events.  I started 3 years ago for a middle school whose SO coordinator (who's daughter was best friend to my granddaughter) asked me to coach.  I had built and flown model planes since I was a teenager in the early 1960's.  I was amazed at how many kids wanted to do CLG and Wright Stuff at the middle school, I had 10-15 kids start each year with 4 or 5 teams going to meets.

At each meet, we experienced what you all have mentioned, that schools without mentors cannot compete.  Unless the kids have some prior experience there is no way for them to gain the skill, knowledge, or experience to build and fly a model airplane.  In CLG, I supplied balsa, built about 40 planes of various designs to demonstrate, and helped kids design and build their own planes.  I taught them how to fly my planes so that they could progress through the point and shoot phase to actual trimming and flying their own.  That avoided them getting discouraged when one flight resulted with a broken plane that needed to be replaced.

The last two years with Wright Stuff went about the same, with me supplying some practice demonstration planes, mentoring them on design and build techniques and then coaching on trimming and flying.  Last year we placed in the top 4 in regionals and state, and placed 6th (i think) at Nationals. 

This year I brought all my planes from last year plus some more I made to meetings early in the year.  After some classroom work about elementary aeronautic principles, we began to fly my last years planes.  This years kits from FF and Lasercut were not yet available.  I wanted the kids to get started early at flying, that is the way to keep them interested, and to ask things like "why do you think it did that" and "how would you adjust your plane to correct what it is doing"?

And to keep it fun! 

I spent another 10-12 yours during the week early in the season repairing my planes for them to fly at our next meetings.  Once they have built their own planes they continue to learn on them.  My philosophy is the first plane they build is a throw away.  They learn to build, then trim, then fly, break, repair, break, repair, .... and so on.  The second plane is to trim and fly for contests.  These break as well but they last longer.  Finally, if I have any kits left or balsa to make fresh planes, the kids build one for State/Nats.  After that it's up to them.  We go through 10-20 kits with 5-10 extra used for spare parts.

I meet with them on Thursdays 6-8pm.  I also am at the gym on most Saturdays from 9am to 4pm for them to "drop by" to build or fly.  I convinced the SO coordinator to reserve the gym on Thursday evenings and Saturdays.  Sometimes we cannot meet , teacher conferences, concerts, games ... but if you get a commitment from the school for unscheduled times practice wins contests.

The last two years I also have volunteered to mentor kids at invitationals, our regional, and the state meets.  I set up a table to help them repair their planes (prior to their official flight times) and coach kids fro other schools on trimming and flying.  This year I advised kids who had stick built planes with no experience at regionals to get the great kits from Laser cut planes since they are easy to build from instructions if you do not have a coach. 
These kids came back to our regional meet with planes that could fly!  I coached them to trim, wind rubber, and fly during unofficial flight time.  They did well when they flew officially!  Unfortunately kids from other schools who have no coaching do not do so well. 

I wish there were more of us to help.

Next year we do helicopters, which I have never done.  I would rather fly airplanes.
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flydean1
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2018, 02:31:36 PM »

Good afternoon all.

Some years ago, a friend of mine, a science teacher at a local high school in Lakeland, Florida found out about Wright Stuff.  Her idea was for something for those who were not jocks, or school politicos and who got no attention.

She contacted me with the supplies she had rounded up--a few sheets of 1/16 balsa wood and a pack of office rubber bands.  I loaned her a copy of the Ron Williams book, and directed her to a few SO kit manufacturers.  My hands shake such that small sticks less than 1/8 are beyond me, so direct mentoring by building a few prototype kits is out.

In any case, she saw what she was up against--schools near Kennedy Space Center seemed to dominate the state level competitions--and abandoned the effort.

My job situation has been really sporadic these last several years and I have had to commute daily nearly 80 miles round trip to keep working so when I got home, there was no energy left, even to build my own models.

Hope this will change with favorable consideration at my latest application and I will be able to earn a more stable income and not have to drive so much.

That said, does anyone know if there is any Wright Stuff activity in Alabama?  If I can find an enthusiastic science teachhere in LA (Lower Alabama) I might be motivated to get involved.
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ceandra
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2018, 04:14:54 PM »

jpsloflyer:

Thanks to you (and all) for mentorship. Looks like we experience much of the same joy in helping.

Specifically, don't be afraid of heli's! I too would rather WS, but the heli's are a new and fun challenge. The FFM kits are great, well thought out, and if Chinook is included may almost be a must as a starting point. However, as Heli moves down to mid school, I woudl expect that axial heli's will be the starting point next year. there are plenty of good designs online to get you started. At first it seems there are far more variables, but some aspects are locked in at build, and so trimming becomes mostly matching rubber to the rotors.

The airplanes are certainly more beautiful in the air.

Chuck
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Jonoton
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2018, 10:38:33 AM »

Hi All,

Wow, all great replies with valuable experience shared.

This coming year, I shall try again to get involved as a mentor.

I'll be back with a more thorough reply, too.

This was in Texas.

Thanks again,

Jonathan
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torqueburner
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2018, 08:32:10 AM »


Next year we do helicopters, which I have never done.  I would rather fly airplanes.

You can get an idea of which events might be run by looking at the tentative schedule for the Science Olympiad Summer Institute.  Currently, it includes "Gliders" for division B and "Gliders or EWS?" for division C.  This may change, as I believe the final event selection if made shortly after the National tournament, May 19-20 this year.

Dave D.
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rogerl
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2018, 08:36:37 PM »

In previous years the flying event that was in the high school goes to the middle school. We just had (2) years of Helicopter in the high school so I think the middle school is going to get Helicopter next year. Maybe Elastic Launch Glider for the High School next year.


Roger L
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Crtomir
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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2018, 09:50:41 AM »

One of our middle school girls who is not on our State team wanted to keep practicing Wright Stuff, so we let her.  She only started practicing Wright Stuff a month or so ago - too late in the season to be competitive - and she is moving up to the high school next year (which I understand is going to have Wright Stuff in some form or another).  Anyways, last Sunday night, after repairing nearly all parts of her plane after her older brother stepped on it (argh!) and trimming it for an hour or so, she was able to get a flight of nearly 1:30 - her best by far.  Watching the smile on her face as she saw her plane circle around and around so gracefully in that flight was incredible.  This is what mentoring is all about.

You see kids that do this event for SO as just another way to win medals and help the team score.  They might be good at it, but they have no love for indoor free flight.  Then, you see those few kids who may not be that competitive, but truly love this event.  Those are the kids you would really like to help because they are the ones who will be better in the long run.   
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