Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No.  It’s Miami State High School’s Year 7 Stellar Academic students learning to fly like Superman.

Miami’s Year 7 Stellar class learned what it is like to reach terminal velocity at 200km per hour without jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet.  The students had the privilege at iFly in Surfers Paradise, an indoor skydiving tourist attraction, as part of their extension science experiment, which was made possible with the assistance of the University of Queensland’s involvement in the Miami Valued Partner’s program.

UQ assisted in the part sponsorship for the entry ticket for the students who attended this adrenaline-charged excursion.

Miami’s Year 7 science class have been investigating forces and their effects. The students’ extension project requires them to design an object that meets several design briefs (such as being aerodynamic) when tested in the class wind tunnel.

At iFly the students got to see firsthand how various objects such as a basketball, tennis ball, football, dodgeball and water reacted when the wind tunnel forces were exerted upon them.

The best part of this mesmerising experiment for Troy Ottaway was when the water turned into a million little droplets that looked like they had frozen in time.  He said, “It was almost like fireworks happening right in front of our eyes. It was like nothing we had seen before.”

The aim of the iFly excursion was to help students deepen their understanding of forces; broaden the students mindset in finding different ways to explore and solve a problem as well as build confidence in trying and testing new ideas.

Michelle Flynn, Head of Department Junior Secondary, stated “This experience of a real life application of concepts and scientific theory such as Newton’s Laws of Motion will provide the opportunity for our students to use the innovation process of think, make, try and refine.”

“They learned about what makes certain shapes and materials more effective than others and how to use these in their designs.”

The students themselves became part of the experiment when they each got to fly. While in flight they felt what it was like to feel Newton’s laws in action.

Mabel O’Reilly, Year 7 Stellar student stated, “The forces acting upon us were profound.”  The flying experience was nerve racking for most of us as we were defying the logic of gravity.  However, the feeling of lying on a blanket of air was exhilarating and was an adrenaline rush that left us all with just one word to describe the outing “Awesome!”

Fellow student Matthew Maher said that he was fascinated by the engineering behind the purpose built facility.  “There isn’t a fan at the bottom of the wind tunnel but rather two fans at the top of the building that suck the air upwards.”

Prior to each student and the two teachers who got to fly and experience the feeling of indoor skydiving as part of this educational experience, the students also attended the iFly science session with Garry Gnapp, who was a previous member of the British Skydiving team and a world-class skydiving instructor with over 10,000 skydives under his belt.

It was an awesome experience that the students will carry with them throughout their educational journey.

Thank you to UQ for making this the best day of school ever!