Some of the most wonderful resources and tools we discover and enjoy using are those developed by ordinary people with extraordinary heart, and a commitment to openly sharing the things they’re passionate about. Ideas-Inspire is one of those resources, and Bill Kuhl is one of those people, although he doesn’t seem not that ordinary.
An Information Systems Coordinator at City of Winona, Wisconsin, Mr. Kuhl’s real passion is Model Aviation, through which he’s developed an extensive and impressive array of free project-based learning (PBL) experiences at his website Ideas-Inspire. The goal of Ideas-Inspire is to show that science and engineering isn’t only important, it can also be lots of fun. “This web site proves that by showing you how to build rockets, airplanes, gliders and cars that really work,” he says on the site, adding, “You can build many of these projects with parts you can find around the house or buy cheaply at a store or online.”
Projects are categorized under “aviation” , “engineering” and newer section on “quadcopters”. Looking at the Foam Plate and Plastic Straw Gliders project, which sets out instructions for making a simple basic styrofoam model airplane that can be used for a variety of other projects, helps unpack some of the cool stuff about this site. There’s plenty of background info on each project, and detailed how-tos, with lots of illustrations, and plenty of background and companion information and resources. There are also a lot of variations on a theme, to help engage students in lots of different ways. For instance, the foam plate glider can also be turned into a rubber band powered foam plane.
There are also some nice related materials, like a Basic Aerodynamics lesson and one on Accompanying Math for Sample Problems These are classic “Learning by Doing” projects, with a little extra love thrown in, the way of science and math content.
In addition to Ideas-Inspire, Kuhl also has a companion science blog called Science Guy Ramblings . In his blog, Kuhl extends the lessons through descriptions of different model projects and especially through examinations of failures or challenges.
The only caveat is that there are a variety of embedded ads on the site. Mr. Kuhl does need to make a living. But some of the ads are distracting, and others can be accidentally clicked on. Over all, though, we think Ideas-Inspire is a solid, content rich resource for fun and engaging PBL opportunities, and we plan to use some of these great projects in some of our future programming, as well.