Information for Teachers and Parents Back to Virtual Flying

This page contains information to help teachers and parents use this activity in class or at home. To return to the activity, click the button on the top right corner of the page.

Table of Contents

  1. Lesson Overview
  2. Hypertext Outline of Lesson
  3. Objectives
  4. Time Allotment
  5. NCTM Process Standards
  6. NCTM Content Standards
  7. Aeronautics Content
  8. Prerequisite Skills
  9. Vocabulary
  10. Materials
  11. Teacher Tips
  12. Additional Activities
  13. Accessibility

I. Lesson Overview

The Virtual Flying Department allows students to explore how the control surfaces of a plane affect flight. The explore mode allows a student to manipulate the rudders, elevators and ailerons and watch the corresponding movement of these parts on a stationary plane. The challenge section allows a student to actually fly a plane and try to aim it towards a target coming closer to the plane in the air. The speed of the target (and plane) is variable to change the skill level of the game. Students can progress through three levels of difficulty aside from changing the speed.

II. Hypertext Outline of Lesson

This purpose of this outline is to help you navigate to specific parts of the lesson without having to go through every page. The section titles link to the first pages of that section, and the numbers in parentheses refer to the page number where that section starts.

III. Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will:

IV. Time Allotment

A minimum of 15 minutes depending on how long students choose to do the virtual flying game at the end of the activity.

V. NCTM Process Standards

There are no specific process standards addressed in this activity.

VI. NCTM Content Standards

Standard 12: Geometry

VII. Aeronautics Content

VIII. Prerequisite Skills

IX. Vocabulary

Vocabulary words are linked to the activity pages on which they're defined.

X. Materials


XI. Teacher Tips

Virtual Flying is a quick, fun activity. It focuses more on aeronautics than mathematics. You may want to use it as a reinforcement after other more challenging activities have been completed. It is good to pair it with the Tour of the Basics activity as these are closely related.

XII. Additional Activities

1. Have students write a Flight Instruction manual describing the specific movement of each control surfaces and its effect on the plane's movement.

2. Have students build paper airplanes and try to simulate the ailerons, rudders and elevators to get the plane to roll, pitch and yaw. Record data and observations on each plane's performance and summarize these findings. For example, which elevator provided the most efficient pitch?

Do you have ideas for other activities to use with this activity? Send your suggestions to us at

XIII. Accessibility

The interactive Shockwave portions of this activity, such as the explore mode, are accessible through both the keyboard and the mouse. Students can use the spacebar to cycle through all the entry options on the screen, which will be highlighted by a small yellow bar next to the option. Students then use the up or down arrows to change that option.

In the challenge mode, the arrow keys up, down, right and left control the airplane's movements. The number keys 1, 2 and 3 change the speed, 1 being slowest and 3 the fastest.

All the pages maintain a consistent grid of 6 buttons along the bottom of the page, which should be accessible through a ClickIt! overlay for IntelliKeys. For more information on using assistive technology, please refer to the document "Making PlaneMath Accessible" on the main PlaneMath parent/teacher page.

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