Derby North Middle School students help build an aircraft

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Derby North Middle School students spent Wednesday morning doing more than learning in a classroom. They helped assemble parts of a real functioning airplane.

The middle school students were shown by visitors from McConnell Air Force the process of building a 1941 Taylorcraft, a light, American designed, single engine monoplane from scratch.

The demonstration started with math problems. Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Snead emphasized the need for mathematics in designing an aircraft and stressed the importance of STEM.

They can see the theory that’s behind the math and the science and then connect it with something real world.

Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Snead

Shortly after, students got the chance to become hands on. They glued, cut, and ironed fabric onto a metal construction to help get parts of the aircraft ready to fly.

“Every pilot is a safer pilot if he knows his systems. So knowing how a plane is constructed and how the system operate makes a pilot safer in operation of his aircraft,” said Michael Busenitz, Stol Creek Aviation Mechanic and Pilot.

The Air Force staff spent time answering questions and providing the support the students needed.

“I really like how we can go and help build the plane instead of watching somebody do it,” said Brock Bahruth, an eighth grade student.

They hope this exercise can help students understand the importance of retaining what they learn in and outside of their traditional classroom.

“I think it’s motivating to the students, they get to connect things that they’re learning in the classroom environment with something that they can do hands on,” said Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Snead.

Snead says he hopes to continue working with the middle school students to build the aircraft through weekly sessions they can sign up for.

He says the airplane is still in the beginning stage of the building process, but it will be ready in May of 2020.

View this post on Instagram

Sorting parts for the Taylorcraft STEM project

A post shared by McConnell AFB STEM (@mcconnell_afb_stem) on

If students want to see the finished aircraft, it will fly at the Jabara Airport at the end of next summer.

To learn more information about how to sign up for the weekly build sessions, you can email McConnell Air Force at:


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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