Students get hands-on experience at Boeing
Forty-three of Darlington County’s brightest, most innovative problem-solvers met recently with officials from one of the world’s leading aerospace companies to take part in the “Boeing DreamLearners” program.
The students from Hartsville High School, Darlington High School, Darlington County Institute of Technology, Darlington Middle School and Rosenwald Elementary/Middle School visited Boeing’s North Charleston facility to participate.
Frank R. Hatten, Boeing strategy and integration education relations specialist, shared background information about the company before challenging the students to utilize the skills needed to gain and maintain employment at Boeing. Those skills included working on a team, managing time, being detail-oriented, showing adaptability and communicability, as well as working to solve a problem.
Boeing divided the students into five member teams, requiring the use all of those skills. Each team consisted of a materials manager, a financial manager, an engineer, a mechanic and a pilot. Hatten encouraged the students to communicate and work as a team to build a paper airplane.
Building and flying paper airplanes did not seem so tough, at first.
Students could collaborate, but could not complete someone else’s task, as that would result in team disqualification. Students were given just 15 minutes to choose between and construct one of five potential airplane designs. After the engineer selected the design, the materials manager had to select the appropriate weight paper and any other materials necessary to complete the task.
The financial manager was responsible for preparing a financial statement. Teams had a project budget of $55,000, including compensation for team members. Designs and materials carried differentiated costs. Additional costs figured in for designs that did not pan out and any questions a team posed to an instructor. An over-budget project resulted in disqualification. The team whose airplane flew the furthest distance during a test flight, without a disqualification, would be deemed the winner.
Upon inspection, just four planes properly matched the design models. Four teams were immediately eliminated, and an additional team’s incomplete financial statement resulted in elimination.
The three designs that had not been disqualified flew their planes. To everyone’s surprise, the team eliminated due to failure to submit an accurate financial statement had accurately built the furthest flying plane.
Lessons learned during the exercise included the importance of complete and accurate work, managing deadlines and the value of effective communication and collaboration.
Teachers reported an enriching experience through the trip and hope to carry more students in the future.