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Ornithopter Teaching Resources

"These birds are a great school project...
engaging and
challenge you to learn new skills."

I started BirdKit.com to help students excel in science. It used to be, these flying models called "ornithopters" were very complex, and only adult hobbyists could build them. My efforts to simplify the construction made it possible for school students to enjoy them as well. Students get really excited about the ornithopter kits. As they rise to meet the challenge of flapping-wing flight, they want to keep learning more about the related math and science concepts!

     

Here is what happened when Tom Cole, a high school teacher in Idaho, started to use the ornithopter kits in his classroom:

"Great things happening with flapping wings... I have students that are high on flight and not on drugs. This is a great project for parent and child. Many of your problem kids have parents that don't work with their kids on anything. This has made a difference in three of my students' families. Something about flapping wings that infects everyone!"   — Tom Cole

Teacher Discount on Bird Kits!

As a school teacher, you qualify for big discounts on ornithopter kits that you purchase to use in your classroom.

     

Science Olympiad

Any of the ornithopter kits on this site can be used in the Science Olympiad "Flying Bird" competition. I suggest using the kits only as a starting point. As your skills progress, you will be able to construct an even lighter model for the actual Science Olympiad competition.

Learning Standards

Natural flight investigations support state and national learning standards. Building an ornithopter from a kit's written instructions is a real-world language lesson that teaches students to read for information and understanding. They will also learn math, science, and technology skills through hands-on experience. Students will want to carry out their own inquiry-based experiments to learn more about flapping-wing flight!

Language Arts

Rodman Philbrick's book, Freak the Mighty, has tempted thousands of young people with the idea of building an ornithopter. Many teachers offer a list of projects related to the book. Building an ornithopter should be on that list, as it provides something for your visual-spatial learners. Students will have to use an ornithopter kit to complete the project successfully. Don't expect middle school students to figure out how to make an ornithopter without a kit.

"Tropic Teleflight", part of a collection of stories by Jody Rawley, takes place in a future Miami, where teams compete to dominate the air with remotely-piloted aircraft. One of the teams has robotic pelican ornithopters. The story teaches important values of responsibility and integrity. There is a link for the e-book in our teacher's guide.