One of My Favorite Minute Physics Lessons


Flying is one of the things that I’ve missed a lot in the last year. I used to log more than 100,000 miles a year flying to speak at conferences and conduct in-person workshops at schools. (I hope to do that again whenever this pandemic ends). One of my favorite things to do at large airports like ATL, DTW, and LHR was to watch the really big planes like 747s, A350s, and A380s rumble down the runway before getting get airborne. I was reminded of this today when I stumbled upon a Minute Physics lesson that I shared a few years ago.

In Why Are Airplane Engines So Big? viewers can learn why jet engines have gotten larger over time, why they biggest engines don’t always go on the biggest or fastest airplanes, and the basic principles of jet propulsion. The video briefly explains the mathematics involved in determining at which point an engine becomes too big or too small to be efficient. It is a fast-paced video so your students may need to watch it a couple of times to catch everything.

Back in 2015 privilege to fly on in A380 from Dallas to Sydney. The A380 is the largest commercial jet in the world. Two things stand out from that experience. First, as I saw the plane towering over the jetway in Dallas I couldn’t help but be amazed at the engineering that makes it possible for something so large to fly across the Pacific in one shot.  Second, the flight itself was remarkably smooth. The explanation of how that jumbo plane can fly is found in a Minute Physics video that Airbus sponsored. How Do Airplanes Fly? explains the roles of wings, propellers, turbines, and wind currents in making a plane fly.

These videos could be the basis of a video science lesson. In this post I provided an overview of how to create video lessons with videos like those from Minute Physics.

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