Tuesday, March 28

Avión de papel

[-] When you're a small kid, probably your grampa made a paper aeroplane and introduced you to the exciting world of flying 'things'.

[-] When you're in primary school, teacher shows you a picture of an aeroplane and tells you that the wings of the plane enables it to fly.

[-] In lower-secondary, you learn that there are forces lifting the plane upwards and enables it to fly. You are introduces to the shape of the plane and the forces.

[-] In upper-secondary, the forces acting on the wings are explained further. Bernoulli's principle coupled with the conservation of momentum results in the plane to fly. The aerofoil shape of the wing is also important to enable the difference in pressure on the wings to lift the plane. Other basic aerodynamic components of the wing and tail wing such as the flap and rudder are introduced.

[-] In the university, the forces acting on the wings suddenly becomes more complex and mind-bending. By the time you finish your degree, masters or PhD, you would have learned about the real Bernoulli's equations, Navier-Stokes equations, flight dynamics, nose-cone designs, reverse wings, elevators and ailerons, wake turbulence, wing-tip vortices, subsonic and supersonic flights, micro-cracks, engine types and propulsion, basic avionics, carbon fibers, aluminum alloys etc.
[-] When finally you end up being an engineer or a flight architect, designer, tester, commissioner, assembler or pilot, you would 'feel' the real aircraft. There are hundreds of thousands of parts in an aeroplane ranging from the tires, to the wings, cockpit fixtures, avionics, landing gears and struts, nose cone radar, cargo compartment, the different types of engine, fuselage etc. I read somewhere there are more than a million parts in an A380.
Now, I'm stuck trying to explain to the upper-secondary students about airplane lift and the physics of aiplanes. It's disturbing how the learning trend of today's education system doesn't follow a certain flow in describing the applications of what they learn as theory. Notice the massive jump from upper-secondary to the university level and the unthinkable reality waiting when you turn into a real engineer. Well, atleast we can work out the connection between university and real work, but the basics you learn in school doesn't prepare you for university. I was left wondering initial when the senior inspector keep on returning the s*toryboards. Now I understand why, the students have no basics to understand what a lift is or a forward thrust is because simply there is no exposure for developing country students to seek out a broader understanding of the things they see in everyday life. Leave out the students in the city who can probably wiki it out, but how do you teach students from the rural areas about wing flaps and rudders? They don't even have basic knowledge of the basic parts of a plane.
While the education system doesn't discriminate rural students, the general world trend and information flow doesn't favor them either. And along with this half-baked understanding of almost everything, they venture to the universities to learn about micro vortices on the leading wing edge and turbulence. You get the picture. I guess by the time this c*ourseware I work on reaches the hundreds of thousands of students, they would probably be bored by the first trial runs.
What exactly the students need in developing countries are Discovery/ NatGeo type documentaries that should create massive interest in them and when they finally hit the books they would be eager to learn more. Then only we can insert more and more complex theories into the young minds, so that by the time they enroll to specific courses in the universities, they would grasp the idea fully. Or in a totally different approach, let's introduce hands on applications first, show them how a plane flies, create models and computer animations and then gradually teach them the theories. From my own experience and observation, I believe the approach using pedagogy to teach science and technology is obsolete and cripples the evolving mind.
If we're working to understand the minds of students from a decade ago, we could have said that textbooks are sufficient. And whatever extra learning material that were given/ donated to the school is enough to satisfy the student. But how do we deal with that one girl who wants to fly a plane, or that one boy who wants to build a plane bigger than an A380? Realistically speaking, we are not looking forward to change a generation to become pilots and engineers, but we must conduct something revolutionary because students are evolving. The influx of mass media in all the form, and the Internet alone makes the textbook introduced yesterday become archaic in no time. Proven that media alone can influence the minds of the students, the we must do everything to change the materials from teaching to evaluation to be based on multi-media alone. Learning from the research done by the MIT-MediaLab for an instance, could open our eyes to introduce more new approaches and materials.
All said, and some done, the future of education, especially science and technology should be driven by the people who wants to see the children stick in schools learning something that they can applicate in their future. The decisions should no preside solely in the hands of few who thinks they have the ways to change the system. And knowing that the system doesn't work, we the youth of this generation must take the initiative to change it. We must come up with ways that would improve the quality of education, the material and the application in general by any way necessary. What we have is a domain that has the power to influence. What we need now is a way to execute those powers, or changes and then gauge the system to detect the improvement it makes and further changes it needs.
What the future 'wants' is a kid who asks how a paper aeroplane flies, and then proceeds to make one of his own. Not a student who flips to the next page in a few minutes and learns something new without first understanding the current lesson.
"I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: 'The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair.' In these words he epitomized the history of the human race." -Bertrand Russell
"Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain." -John F. Kennedy
[-] Avion de papel means paper aeroplane in Spanish. The asterix in certain words is to protect this blog and my identity to not link it with my work.


Vanathi said...

""Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain." -John F. Kenned ". Very true...

Nirek said...

I am happy that you are analysing the weakness and loopholes in our education systems to the core.
having done this, i hope your smart courseware will be path breaking one in the future.
keep us posted with the development!

Prerona said...

very good post - thanks for dropping by - i was going to say some more but then i thought that u might take offence :)

Vincent said...

I can attribute part of my liking for Science to the Discovery Channel, thanks to shows/simulations on Machines, Buildings, Weapons, Crime, Detectives etc.. but the same theories in CBSE textbooks are very bland and sleep inducing. Poor illustrations, the language and lack of comprehensive explanations were some of the reasons which completely turn students off. At this rate, its going to take forever for students to realise that Science is fun and anyone who loves it is not a geek.


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