Prairie View

Friday, February 08, 2008

Airplanes for Hunter

Mr. Schrock planned a really guy-fun activity for the last half hour of school today. It seems that a kindergartener named Hunter, from New York, who has a fast-growing cancer, is trying to set some kind of record for folding paper airplanes. He must have heard the story of Sadako and the paper cranes. Sadako was another child ill with radiation-induced cancer who set out to fold 1,000 paper cranes, Origami- style. People are mailing paper airplanes to Hunter to help him set the record. So we joined in and folded paper airplanes to send to Hunter. Combined, they filled a large barrel-type trash can more than half full. Mr. Shrock will mail them to Hunter.

We got lots of mileage out of the project by having various contests related to paper airplane construction. No one could be a winner unless the airplane(s) in the competition could actually be flown at least 12 feet as demonstrated by standing behind one masking-tape line and flying the plane to land on the far side of the other line 12 feet away. All the airplanes had to be made of folded paper. I silently thanked my six brothers for having taught me my airplane construction skills as I joined in on the project.

One was a contest to see who could make the most airplanes in three minutes. Tim seemed to be the first winner, until all ten of his airplanes flunked the test flights. Kevin, who had the next highest number of airplanes was then temporarily declared the winner (His flew nicely.) till he confessed, upon questioning, that he had not written Kansas on each airplane, as required. So he was disqualified. Then the next fastest aerospace manufacturers had to prove the airworthiness of their creations, and Arlyn and the other Tim tied, each at four airplanes that passed muster.

In the next contest, people competed for the "Most Innovative Design" award. I couldn't stop laughing while the lead-in for this contest was in progress (many unofficial on-the-side flight trials to calculate the risk level for entering the for-real contest). I watched while David, the biggest guy in school, tried out his crane-head specimen (my term). At the nose end, it had a short neck standing straight up with a "beak" protruding from the front. He heaved it with all his might, whereupon the aircraft disgraced itself by promptly crashing into the ceiling above him and then diving onto the floor right beside David. He didn't enter the design contest.

Ryan and Seth were the only people who submitted entries. They both passed the flight tests. Before we voted on our favorite designs, each of the inventors gave a campaign speech, Seth ending his with "If you vote for mine, your lives will be better." Ryan said, "If you vote for mine, your taxes will be lower." Seth made a tiny model with the most outstanding feature an eight? inch tail--very skinny, almost thread-like, but made of paper. Ryan's was a robust-looking plane with a tube-shaped appendage running lengthwise along the top. Seth's won.

We had to hurry with the final contest--trying for the longest flights. A disconcerting number veered off course and crashed into walls, desks, tables, etc. but some of them sailed nearly the full length of the learning center (50-60 ft.?). Then it was time to gather up all the airplanes, along with the notes for Hunter that some of the girls wrote, and dismiss for the day.

For our planes, maiden voyage and final voyage were very close together--just as Hunter's may be. It's sad, but less sad than otherwise because we got to do something nice for Hunter that was fun for us also.

Tonight I will do one more thing for Hunter. I will pray for him.


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