Teachers turn Dreamlifter distraction into day's lessons

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email
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WICHITA, Kan. -- "A plane sits at the end of a runway in Wichita, Kansas," sounds like the beginning of a problem that belongs in a school math book.

However, it was a real-world problem being solved across the road from Circle Greenwich Elementary and it provided plenty of learning opportunities.

"We talked about problem solving big time today," said Jenna Whitehead, a second grade teacher at the school.

The problem that needed solving was pretty visible from Circle Greenwich, which is across Greenwich Road from Jabara Airport. Students wanted to know more about the Boeing Dreamlifter, a huge cargo plane attracting worldwide attention after it landed at Jabara by mistake Wednesday night.

"When their brains are like sponges, you just do what you can to keep them interested and you just roll with it," Whitehead said.

Mrs. Whitehead and her students were able to relate the Dreamlifter to many of their subjects. Engineers were using math and science to make sure the plane could safely take off from Jabara. The importance of aviation to the Wichita-area economy falls under social studies.

"So many of their parents work in aviation," Whitehead said. "So that was being able to connect a lot of the dots of things they've heard at home and being such a big part of Wichita."

The day's lessons included the excitement of watching from the front of the school as the Dreamlifter took off.

Whitehead said real-world examples are the best way to learn.

"As a teacher, you just jump on that kind of stuff and don't let that go to waste," she said.

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