Amelia Earhart enchants at Indian Mills Memorial School

Released by Shamong Township Schools.

Lost at sea on July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart has continued to be an enchanting historical figure. Known as “Lady Lindy,” Amelia was a stalwart pioneer of aviation. Across the United States, streets, schools, airports, awards and scholarships bear her name. Her hometown of Atchison, Kan. is a virtual shrine in her honor. Knowingly flying into the face of danger, Earhart remarked, “I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” And now, another honor has been bestowed upon her memory in Shamong.

The sixth-grade students took on her challenge by celebrating the first Amelia Earhart Day on May 4. This was more than a simple day set aside; it was the culmination of a project designed by Dave Tucker, Karen Davies, Tracy Hall-Binkowski, and Laura Hoffman, of the language arts department at Indian Mills Memorial School. A project that was only possible with generous monetary support from the Shamong Foundation for Educational Excellence. It began in early March with students reading the biography, Amelia Earhart: A Photographic Story of Life. Concurrently, supporting “flight lessons,” which focused on the history, science, and mathematics factors of aviation, were developed and presented by the other core subject area teachers within the grade.

Additionally, as the students progressed through the biography, the resources of the NASA Glenn Research Center’s The Beginner’s Guide to Aeronautics web-based site helped students as they learned to identify parts and functions of aircraft discover how airplanes fly, and the effects of torque on flight. Then, all the sixth-grade students used their newfound skills to build and test-fly balsa wood airplanes.

After making refinements, the culminating activity had students gather in the school gym and compete in a grade-wide airplane distance and hang time competition. The benefit to learning was immediate and far ranging. Reading a biography on an historical figure is one thing, but turning it into a cross-curricula event that involves building a wooden airplane and then seeing the fruits of one’s labor soar through the air created an excitement about learning that will stay with these students forever. Near the end of the day, Tucker was overheard telling a group of his students, “You see, you really can have fun while learning!”