Fascinated by Flight – Len Waters Activities

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Australia Remembers; Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly, delves into the life, career, hardships and Indigenous roots of Australia’s first known First Nations fighter pilot, Len Waters. Flying and everything about it fascinated Len. It seemed, from the time he was a small boy, Len Waters was born to fly. Thanks to author Catherine Bauer, with illustrations by Nancy Bevington, there is so much to explore with this invaluable resource, and here we will focus on activities related to Len’s fascination with flight.

* N.B. These discussion points and activities can be adapted to suit the age and educational level from Foundation to Year 6.

Discussion and Activities

Curriculum Links –

English Years 3 & 4: Responding to literature (ACELT1596)(ACELT1603), Examining literature (ACELT1599)(ACELT1605), Interpreting, analysing, evaluating (ACELY1678)(ACELY1680)(ACELY1690)(ACELY1692)

English Years 5 & 6: Literature and context (ACELT1608)(ACELT1613), Interpreting, analysing, evaluating (ACELY1701)(ACELY1702)(ACELY1703)(ACELY1711)(ACELY1712)(ACELY1713), Creating texts (ACELY1704)(ACELY1714)

HASS Years 3 – 6: Questioning (ACHASSI052), Researching (ACHASSI053)(ACHASSI054), Analysing (ACHASSI056)(ACHASSI057), Evaluating and reflecting (ACHASSI058), Communicating (ACHASSI061)

Before Reading –

What does the front cover of Australia Remembers; Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly tell you about the nature of this book? What do you see? What do you think this book might be about? What kind of text do you think it is?

Read the blurb and discuss. What do you know about World War 2? What do you know about the inequalities and hardships the First Nations Peoples endured before and during this time?

How do you think Len Waters achieved his dreams of ‘taking to the skies’? What do you understand about the science of ‘flight’?

After Reading –

List all the flying objects and birds listed in the book that Len studied. For example, wedge-tailed eagle, boomerangs, thermals, monoplane, types of aircrafts, model aeroplanes, etc. Complete a Venn Diagram comparing the similarities and differences between an eagle and a type of aircraft.

How did Len Waters create his own model aeroplanes? How did he test their performance?

What does RAAF stand for? At what age was Len when he was recruited and signed up for the RAAF? Why do you think servicemen and women enlist in the armed forces?

Why do you think there was such discrimination of Australian First Nations Peoples during the War? Why do you think some like Len ‘slipped through’? Create a list of words can you use to describe Len’s attitude and personal strength.

What do you know about the de Havilland Tiger Moth aircraft? What was it, and still is, used for? Draw a diagram and label its parts.

What are some of the safety features of a fighter aircraft, such as Len’s Kittyhawk, Black Magic? Design your own nose art if you were a pilot of an aircraft such as this. What would you call it?

Exploring the Forces of Flight

Curriculum Links –

Years 3 & 4 Science: Physical sciences (ACSSU076), Questioning and predicting (ACSIS053), Planning and conducting (ACSIS054)(ACSIS055), Processing and analysing data and information (ACSIS215), Evaluating (ACSIS058), Communicating (ACSIS060)(ACSIS071)

An aircraft in motion is subject to four forces: thrust, drag, lift and weight.

Elastic Band Thrust Plane

An aeroplane’s thrust is created by its jet engine or propeller. Make an elastic band-powered plane by folding and taping a straw over an elastic band. Attach some paper wings to the straw. Pull the straw end backwards in one hand whilst tensioning the elastic band over one finger on the other hand. Let go of the straw and watch your plane fly!

Balloon Powered Thrust Rocket

According to Newton’s third law, there is an equal and opposite reaction – as the balloon deflates, it is thrust forward along the string. Attach a long piece of string from one door handle to another. Tape a straw onto a blown up (but not tied) balloon. From one end of the string, let go of the inflated balloon and watch it whizz across the room!

Air Resistance Balloon Rocket

Using the above activity, investigate drag – the force that slows down an aircraft. Attach a foam or paper plate to the front of your balloon aircraft. Try the experiment again and observe how far the balloon travels along the string now.

Lifting Wings

An aircraft is forced upwards by the vast amount of air over the wings. When lift is greater than the weight, the plane will move upwards. Make an airfoil shape wing by folding a piece of paper in half and taping the ends together. Make a hole through one end (two pieces) and insert a straw. Attach a long piece of string to the top of the straw. Hold and run or spin quickly and watch the airfoil wing lift into the air.

Paper Plane Weights

Experiment with weight by making a paper plane aeroplane, and attaching a clip, one at a time, to observe how the performance changes with the increasing amount of weight.

Make Your Own Biplane

Find instructions on Pages 80 – 82 of Australia Remembers; Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly to create your own peg and popstick biplane.

BONUS! Find more Teaching and Learning Education for Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly at the following links!

Australia-Remembers-3-Len-Waters-9781922488602-PB-Teachers-Notes.pdf (bigskypublishing.com.au)

Utilising Australia Remembers 3 as an Education Tool by Catherine Bauer – (justkidslit.com)

Australia Remembers 3; Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly is written by Catherine Bauer, illustrations by Nancy Bevington. Published by Big Sky Publishing. Notes prepared by Romi Sharp.

Reference: Australian Curriculum


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Australia Remembers 3 is available for purchase through: Big Sky Publishing | Booktopia


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