The MESA rcFoam Fighters (Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement) is an after school club consisting over 50 sixth to eigth grade students. The program designs, creates, and evaluates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) based projects through the lens of Remote Control Aircraft. Below is a little bit about their program from their leader Jake Marshall.
About MESA rcFoam Fighters
The RC hobby of scratch build aviation lives strong in the small town of Loveland Colorado. With over 50 6th to 8th grade students, (tack on another 50 students on a waiting list), it marks the only Colorado MESA after school program in the state to practice such a curriculum. Colorado MESA is a nonprofit organization under the Colorado Minority Engineering Association (CMEA). The Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program is designed to encourage students to prepare themselves for a college education and to major in mathematics, engineering or science.
At Lucile Erwin Middle School, the MESArcFF team is unique in that they apply STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) based skills through the use of Scratch Build Remote Control Aircraft. Students learn and study the physics of flight such as hydrofoils, aerodynamics, center of gravity, drag, lift, thrust and much more. Students’ mathematical skills are applied by use of measurement as well as science skills through the use of RC electronics and the physics of flight. With middle school students in the driver seat, the creativity they bring is endless, and the designs developed are top notch.
The remote control world of creating and flying aircraft can be overwhelming, and for some, it is a one time trial and leaving the hobby kind of deal. Jake Marshall, the MESA Advisor/Director of the program, is by no means an RC expert, so in order to meet the needs of the students and their ideas; YouTube has played a huge part in the student’s problem solving endeavors. The MESArcFF team has created a YouTube channel where they can share their questions, findings, etc with individuals spread across the world. Over the past two years, students have been able to communicate and be mentored by engineers in California, Missouri, New Zealand, and England. The RC community is very helpful, and it seems that there is no problem that they cannot solve.
Getting into this hobby can be very expensive, and outfitting an after school program makes the costs go up beyond wanting to create such a group. The MESArcFF team, as mentioned above, uses their YouTube channel as another main contribution, “funding!” Since their beginning three years ago, the MESA team is sponsored by rcFoam Fighters, a YouTube affiliate group located out in Missouri, and their local hobby franchise HobbyTownUSA. These two sponsoring groups aid in equipment and construction material donations. The other group is personal donations from individuals who watch the channel from all over the world. Without the sponsors and donors the MESArcFF team would have ended two years ago.
Since getting popular on YouTube, and product reviews are starting to come in, the overall demand for videos has increased. To meet this demand the MESArcFF team has created a MESArcFF Production division, consisting of students interested in cinematography and video editing. The sky’s the limit it seems like for the MESA rcFoam Fighters.
The basic concept, acquire foam board and rc equipment from a local hobby store, apply the Design Cycle, create a plane and take to the skies. This process of design is what the MESA students go through each time they create a build. In Season 2 of MESA rcFoam Fighters, a group of students worked together to create a scratch build hybrid. In the Investigative stage, the theme chosen was Russian past and present aircraft design. After taking three designs, the Mig, SU, and the PAK, they were ready to start designing. The Design stage encompassed endless thumbnail sketches and the use of AutoCAD. Students practiced and learned how to create plans to publish out in a template format for creation. The Creation stage saw build after build until a prototype was created. The students then tested this aircraft in the Evaluation stage. In the end, there was over ten designs brought to the table, over ten planes tested, and the final product proved to be the result of all it, the “MT-2 Red Dawn.”
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