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Student Projects

Call Sign Courage

Authors: Kelly Jacob, Chris Olivas, Max Cady

Grade: 8th

Subjects: Digital Arts, Humanities, Math, Science

How can we capture stories that can continue to inspire others?

How can we celebrate 100 years of the “Golden Wings”

How can we encourage more diversity in the field of aviation?

What can we learn from the collective human experience about callings and courage?

How can we apply Newton’s Laws of motion to engineering challenges?

How have scientists been innovating aviation since the early 1900s?

How does light work and how do we capture it to make sense of the Universe?


In this project, students will capture the stories of Naval aviators in a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the “Wings of Gold”insignia awarded to aviators. Students will interview current and former aviators from 3 branches of the US Military (The Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corp) and explore their unique and courageous experiences.

  • Pairs of student will be partnered with a current or former aviator from the US Military (Navy, Coast Guard, or Marine Corp).
  • Students will conduct an in-person interview with the goal of capturing his/her experience and memories as they relate to aviation experiences, their calling to serve, and their unique call signs.
  • Students will transcribe and archive their interview recordings as a digital keepsake.
  • Students will photograph their participants and create a keepsake poster for each participant consisting of their portrait and a memorable quote from the interview.
  • Students will create photo light stencils of images in San Diego, aboard the Midway, skyline, etc.

Students will design, build, and test a glider car to be entered in the SD Air & Space Museum Fly Your Ride competition

  • 15 former US Navy
  • 5 former Coast Guard or Marine Corp
  • 5 current US Navy
  • 5 current Coast Guard or Marine Corp

Work will begin in October and conclude in November, with an exhibition on board the USS Midway (Dec. 7th, 2016)


Humanities Math/Science

–       Students will read Unbroken

–       Learn digital photography skills

–       Begin interview preparations

–       Begin to interview participants and archive stories


–       Learn about Newton’s Laws & the Physics of Flight

–       Research and Design potential glider car

–       Build, Test, and Revise Glider Car

–       Learn how light and cameras work


–       Students will continue to interview participants

–       Take photographs

–       Create “pull quotes”

–       Create light stencil photography

–       Write New York Times style biographical pieces


–       Create stencil light photography

–       Learn about the structure of the universe

–       Astrophotography and Calendar creation


–       Exhibition on USS Midway!!!



–       Finalize astrophotography calendar with collaborating South Africa School

–       Exhibit work and Test Fly your Ride glider cars

Though the project centered around aviators, the heart of the project was looking at human experiences and the importance of telling and archiving stories. The students and aviators each created lasting impressions on each other, and having an authentic audience drove students to produce high quality portraits and stories that not only they were proud of, but the aviators were equally proud to stand next to.

It was also a true collaboration between the subject areas and allowed students to use and transfer the skills they learned in each class. We were proud of the growth mindset that students adopted in order to plan, design, build, test, and revise their vehicles for the competition at exhibition. This was a great project to apply NGSS 3 dimensional learning.

“This project pushed me academically by teaching me grit and how to use it to push my learning. My partner and I had originally made our flying vehicle thinking it was going to work with no problem, but we were wrong. We used our original vehicle to look at the flaws and how to improve it. Then we made a second, third, and fourth draft, each time looking through every flaw. We managed to eventually make a working vehicle and were both proud that we had grit and kept working on it until we got it right.”  – Canon

“I came out of this project with a different perspective on the people that serve our country. I saw war through their eyes, and it really made me appreciate everything that they do for our country. The project taught me not only about math, science, and reading and writing skills, but how to deal with people, collaborate, and appreciate what people do every day.” – Dani