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A Life Without Flight

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Students will explore the impact of Ohio’s “aviation pioneers” on life in America.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


Students will explore the impact of Ohio’s “aviation pioneers” on life in America.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Science
  • Technology


  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Two
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups

Background Knowledge

Students should have basic knowledge of:

  • Air and space travel
  • Internet and textual research

Terms and Concepts

  • Quarter
  • Reverse
  • Symbol
  • Aviation
  • Pioneer
  • Mysteries


  • 1 large brightly colored box
  • 1 sign reading, “Mystery Box”
  • 1 2002 Ohio quarter
  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Ohio quarter reverse
  • 1 envelope with an out-of-state postmark
  • 1 piece of fruit or vegetable that is not native to the school’s area
  • 1 postcard from a foreign country
  • 1 copy each of an age appropriate text about the Wright brothers and a text about the moon landing, such as:
    • Taking Flight: The Story of the Wright Brothers (Ready-to-Read) by Stephen Krensky
    • First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers by George Shea
    • One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong by Don Brown.
    • Man on the Moon by Anastasia Suen
    • Moonwalk: The First Trip to the Moon by Judy Donnelly
  • A Day in My Life worksheet
  • Access to a computer lab with connection to the Internet


  • Wrap or paint a large cardboard box in a bright color.
  • Make and attach a sign to the box that reads “Mystery Box.”
  • Place 2002 Ohio quarter, envelope, fruit, and postcard inside the Mystery Box.
  • Make an enlarged or overhead version of the Ohio quarter reverse.
  • Make copies of the “A Day in My Life” worksheet for half the class.
  • Schedule research time in a computer lab for students to complete their assignment.
  • Bookmark appropriate Internet sites as determined by lesson.
  • Gather supplemental text resources as needed (see suggestions under “Materials”).

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at

Session 1

  1. Place in plain view of the students a box labeled “Mystery Box.” Examine the box periodically throughout the morning. When students ask you what’s in it, respond with, “You’ll have to wait and see.”
  2. When you’re ready for the lesson, bring the box to the front of the classroom and ask the students whether they noticed it. What made them curious? Tell the students that they can look into the box, but first ask: “Who would look into the box if they thought it might have something spooky in it? Who would look into the box if they thought it might have something dangerous in it?”
  3. Introduce the Ohio quarter by taking it out of the Mystery Box. Tell the students that the coin highlights some people who were curious about the unknown, just like they were with the Mystery Box.
  4. Describe the 50 State Quarters® Program for background information, if necessary, using the example of your own state, if available. Then display the transparency or photocopy of the Ohio quarter reverse.
  5. In small groups, have students discuss the symbols on the coin’s reverse. Ask the students what types of things they think interested the people on the quarter. (They should guess ideas relating to flight.) Explain that several famous people from Ohio knew that flight and space travel were dangerous, things that no one had ever done before, but they were brave and still wanted to learn all they could about these topics.
  6. Take a letter with an out-of-state postmark, a fruit or vegetable that is not native to the school’s area, and a postcard from a foreign country out of the Mystery Box and pass them around. Ask, “What do these three things have to do with the Ohio quarter?” Depending on the student responses, discuss how easily each item is available because of the work of the Wright Brothers of Ohio (only Orville was born there, but both worked there).

Session 2

  1. Briefly review what the students know about the Wright Brothers (Who were they? What did they do to make these advancements to our lives possible?) If necessary, have students read and discuss related stories such as those listed under “Materials.”
  2. Ask the students to think about what our lives would be like if people like John Glenn and Neil Armstrong (two other aviation pioneers from Ohio) had never explored the mysteries of outer space. How would our lives be different if space had never been explored?
  3. Use visuals to demonstrate the evolution of aviation and space travel. Explain that many items that were developed specifically for and as a result of space travel have improved people’s lives here on Earth.
  4. As a class, brainstorm and post a list of items that space travel may have given society.
  5. Distribute the “A Day In My Life” worksheet to your students.
  6. In small groups, have students read through the story, then use the Internet to find and underline as many items as they can that were developed or improved as a direct result of space travel. (Bookmark Internet sites that list “NASA spinoffs” for student use.)
  7. Regroup and review the students’ results. Review the ways in which the world has changed since the Wright Brothers’ flight.

Differentiated Learning Options

Incorporate visuals with the “A Day in My Life” story to help non-native English speakers build their vocabulary.


  • Since so few newspapers picked up the story when the Wright Brothers made their first flight, have the students write a news article about the importance of this flight and how man’s ability to fly has changed the way we live our daily lives.
  • Have students write a creative story about what life would be like without flight.
  • Have students develop a timeline of advancements made since the beginning of the United States’ space program.
  • Have students create information booklets about their findings to share with primary students.

Use the worksheets and class participation to assess whether the students have met the lesson objectives.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Time, Continuity, and Change
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand that historical knowledge and the concept of time are socially influenced constructions that lead historians to be selective in the questions they seek to answer and the evidence they use
  • help learners apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity
  • enable learners to identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, including but not limited to, the development of ancient cultures and civilizations, the emergence of religious belief systems, the rise of nation-states, and social, economic, and political revolutions
  • guide learners in using such processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and interpret the past, such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, searching for causality, and distinguishing between events and developments that are significant and those that are inconsequential
  • provide learners with opportunities to investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues, while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment; and enable learners to apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments, and to inform and evaluate actions concerning public policy issues.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Use of Spoken, Written, and Visual Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Research
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience. 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Effective Communication
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth’s physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features