Still not sure if this was a timely lesson or a lesson in timing. For the last few weeks, students in 5th grade have been reading a passage from ReadWorks.org about a planned solar-powered solo flight. The passage was brief but perfect for our short class periods. This allowed time to read and time to reflect in Google Docs. I used this to assist students with gaining the skills they need to create Google Presentations.
My lesson today was a little different with a particular fifth grade class. Class time quickly dwindled. So I modified what we have been doing in the other classes (working with text clues) for this class. Today, I had them figure out which person the article is really about (there are three names listed). Many accurately chose Bertrand Piccard. Those that didn't were shown how easy it is to correct our work in Google presentations. Then I asked the students to create a new slide where they would very briefly express their prediction. Would he and his team be successful? Would they find failure? While waiting for their class to arrive I had noticed the date mentioned in the article. Here is the line that caught my eye, "Piccard wants to make the first test flight by the end of 2007. He hopes to fly around the world in 2010." (ReadWorks.org). I must have had my coffee today because I realized this is 2014. I hadn't heard anything about a plane crossing the globe that was solar-powered. But that did not mean that it hadn't happened.
So I asked the students to make their predictions. I promised to followup with research with them. Together we would find out if he and his team were successful or not. This evening for fun (yes I'm that kind of educator - fun involves Googling to benefit my students) I took to the Internet to see if there were any recent mentions of this flight. Of course I filtered using the Google Tool of search by time. I am still floored by what I found! April 15th CNN posted an article stating that Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg recently unveiled their prototype of the solar-powered airplane. It seems in 2010 they were successful in flying non-stop for 26 hours. Wow! Now they are poised to try for 72 hours.
The nerd in me is cheering. The environmentalist in me is squealing with glee. The educator in me is so excited to share my new knowledge with our students. Could this have been any more perfect - recent news update, Earth Day activity, Google Docs integration lesson? A very powerful moment in time for our students and myself.