Date: 9 Jan 16
By: Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
2252 Joyce St., Burlington, ON L7R 2B5
905 634 9538 email@example.com
For: SQE group and whom else it may concern
Re: Help me tear out my hair
I write this asking for help to tear out my hair. This is too big a job for one person.
I have a friend whose son – call him John – is in Grade 11 in a somewhat distant school. His science teacher assigned him to build an airplane to carry an egg without dropping or damaging it. The teacher gave John a 12-day deadline.
He asked me for help and sent me his preliminary design. It was, of course, utterly hopeless, altho he had used a surprising amount of ingenuity. Since, by hand-gliding one of my models he had demonstrated a good hand, eye, and instinct for how to hand-launch it (which is a non-trivial skill), I decided I would help rather than discourage him.
Hmmm. Where to start? There are 300-page books on the subject, such as Perkins and Hage, Airplane performance, stability, and control, and Langweische, Stick and rudder. One would have to be familiar with most of their contents to answer the question.
Well, having built, over 80 years, any number of aircraft, some of which I designed, I was able to specify for him, straight out of my head and without burdening him with theory, a simple airplane that I know would fly – just the dimensions, wing and tail area, where they should be located, where the egg would have to go, and all that. I gave him this info three days ago.
I told him also that during the tests (where have I seen that word “tests” before?) he would crash at least one of his trial designs, and that he would need at least a month of his spare time, which he had better tell his teacher. He should also ask her to make it a glider, since power and radio add two whole other complex and expensive dimensions miles beyond the scope of a highschool project.
Today he told me that the teacher has withdrawn the project “because the gym is not big enough for an airplane”. This, of course, is a face-saving cop-out: someone has told her how stupid her assignment is. Too bad no one told me how stupid I was to volunteer.
This woman lives, not on another planet, but in some other galaxy 100 million light-years from here. People like this teach our kids science and math?! And when Canada’s (poor) innovation record and our everyday existence depend on science and math?!
I’m speechless. I haven’t any words to say what needs being said, and they wouldn’t do any good anyway.
Say a prayer for the kids in the Ontario school system, cuz the good Lord is the only One who can help them.