A Vision in Aeronautics, a project within the NASA Glenn Research
Center's Information Infrastructure Technologies and Applications
(IITA) K-12 Program, employs small-scale, subsonic wind tunnels to
inspire students to explore the world of aeronautics and computers.
Recently, two educational K-12 wind tunnels were built in the
Cleveland area. During the 1995-1996 school year, preliminary testing
occurred in both tunnels.
At General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Aviation High School, the
students conducted three wind tunnel experiments. In the first one,
they analyzed a venturi (see the first figure). After collecting
velocity and pressure data through the tunnel's instrumentation, the
students used the data to create computer-generated graphs displaying
the relationship of velocity and pressure.
In the second experiment, the students observed an airfoil at
various angles of attack. They visually observed the tufts on the
airfoil as it was rotated from a horizontal position to a steep angle
of attack. Then, they plotted the velocity and pressure readings at
various angles (as shown in the following figure).
Pressure and velocity differences at various angles of
Their third project was the wheel pant project, a research project
conducted by NASA Glenn Research Center's Structural Systems Branch
to design a more aerodynamic wheel cover for small aircraft. Helping
out with this real-world research project, students performed initial
tests of Glenn' wheel pant design in Aviation High School's K-12 wind
tunnel. The tests indicated that the covered wheel will provide some
additional drag reduction. By working with the students and using
this educational tunnel, NASA researchers were able to expedite their
research on this project instead of waiting for a schedule opening
for the heavily used NASA wind tunnels.
Wheel pant installation.
At Barberton High School, the wind tunnel was used for a pine car
drag race. Students designed cars with features they believed would
make their cars the fastest. Then the cars were tested in the tunnel
to find the car with the least amount of drag.
At both schools, the student participants learned a great deal
about aeronautics. They will have a head start on their college
studies should they pursue aeronautics further.
Students at General Benjamin O. Davis
Aviation High School test an airfoil in the school's educational wind
During the 1996-1997 school year, these tunnels will be opened up
to students in other schools through the use of the Internet.
Students at remote schools will be able to build a test object and
send it to the school with the tunnel it is to be tested in. While
the test is being conducted, desk-top video conferencing and
electronic data transfer will allow students at the remote school to
observe testing in real time.
Find out more about the NASA
IITA Program Office (NASA Ames) and the NASA
Glenn K-12 Wind Tunnel.