Oak Creek reopens science lab with special flight class

by: REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - J.R. Pollnow, outreach coordinator for Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, discusses how kites are lifted in the air. Oak Creek Elementary School’s new science lab was put to use last week with a special presentation by Evergreen Air and Space Museum.

The classroom space previously used as a lab was needed for classroom space when elementaries were consolidated at the close of school last year. The new science lab, which serves all northside elementary schools, is located next to the computer lab.

“This dedicated space next to the computer lab is great,” said Principal Karen Lachman. “It gives easy access to technology.”

Oak Creek’s first- and second-grade students got to give the space its initial test run with lessons in floating through the clouds last week. J.R. Pollnow, outreach coordinator for Evergreen Air and Space Museum, visited the school to present a lesson in flight. Focusing on how kites, hot air balloons and gliders fly, Pollnow taught the youngsters about the four forces of flight: thrust, drag, lift and gravity.

Pollnow, aka The Rocketman, explained to students that the Evergreen museum exhibits offer lessons in science, math and engineering. They were delighted to learn that they can use science to increase the fun on the waterslides in the Wings and Waves Water Park.

“Make your body as compact as possible when you go down the slide so you have the least amount of friction or resistance,” he said. “Then lift your feet as you enter the water and you’ll skip across the water!”

The main focus of the special science class was to learn about kites, their origin and uses, what they are made of and how it is possible that they fly.

Pollnow explained that kites were made originally in China and used to scare enemies during battle. Over the centuries kites had been used to communicate with the spirit world, used as fishing aids and to announce the birth of a child. He talked about Leonardo daVinci’s experiments with kites and the fact that the Wright Brothers’ first airplanes were gliders, which are basically kites.

He asked what shapes kites have and the students replied that they were most usually triangles and rhombuses, but could have unique shapes as well. Pollnow said kites could be made of paper, plastic, string, wood and light metal; the lighter the material the better, he said.

After the students understood the principals of flight, they made and decorated their own kites of paper and soda straws.

The special science lesson was presented free of charge to the students, courtesy of the museum’s outreach program.

When asked about the special presentation first grader Ansele Bennett said she got to make a kite.

“First we talked about drag, thrust and lift,” said classmate Kate Riehl.

Tyler Kim was most impressed by what Pollnow told them about Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose, which is housed at the museum.

“He told us about the biggest airplane,” said Kim.

“This was a perfect program to enhance our first, second curriculum,” said Lachman.

The program was presented free of charge through Evergreen’s outreach program, which is available to all schools. To learn more about the programs offered through Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, visit

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