Teaching the Kono Dihedral Diamond Kite

Level: Intermediate (3-5/6)
Grade from: 3
Grade to: 6
Length: 1-4 sessions, including student readings, kite making, and kite flying. Sessions can be taught in a different order, with some combined or omitted. The kite alone can be constructed in 30 minutes (minimal decoration and no flying time).
Cultural Studies Integration:

Focus: 

These readings and activities introduce vocabulary and concepts about the principle of dihedral and how it affects the flight of a kite. They also profile the life and skills of a kite maker. Students construct the simple kite pictured.

The sequence in which these activities can be presented is flexible. For example, students may work on one reading per week over the course of two weeks (or one reading per day over two days), then decorate, make and fly their kites in one session. Or the sequence could be: reading about the principle of dihedral; students’ decorating and making their kites; students’ flying their kites; reading about the kite maker as a culminating activity.

Curriculum Integration: 

Science: analyzes how the parts of a system go together and how these parts depend on each other; understands how to ask a question about objects in the environment; analyzes how well a design or a product solves a problem; analyzes the use of science, math, and technology within occupational / career areas of interest.

Mathematics: understands the concept of area; understands the concept of angle measurement; understands and applies strategies to obtain reasonable estimates of length, angles and areas; identifies geometric figures and concepts in nature and art.

Social Studies: describes how differing environments both provide varying opportunities and set limits for human activity; analyzes the impact of technology and tools on the production of goods and services; describes how one person can make a difference in the school or local community; identifies and analyzes relationships between historical events.

Visual Arts: understands and demonstrates the use of line through direction, type, and quality; identifies and uses color and form in a 3D artwork; combines art elements for expressive purposes; uses proportion to analyze size relationships in an artwork; balances forms and uses emphasis in an artwork; develops work using a creative process with instructor assistance.

Language Arts: applies vocabulary strategies in grade-level text; understands and applies content vocabulary critical to the meaning of the text; summarizes the information in an expository text; reads to learn new information; reads to perform a task; writes for different purposes; writes in a variety of forms/genres (answers to questions).

Cultural Integration: North America

Materials: 

Student Reading: What is “Dihedral” and Why Would I Want Some? (PDF file)

Extension Activities: What is Dihedral?: Writing & Discussing (PDF file)

Student Reading: Meet the Kite Maker: Greg Kono (PDF file)

Extension Activities: Meet the Kite Maker: Writing & Discussing (PDF file)

Purchase Kite Kits: Kono Dihedral Diamond Kite Kit (with paper pattern, spars, flying line & winder), per student

Materials You Supply: Scissors; Scotch tape; markers, pens, crayons, and/or watercolors, per student

OR

Printable Kite Kit: Template (PDF file) (requires 1 piece of 11”x17” bond paper, per student) and Instructions (PDF file) for Kono Dihedral Diamond Kite, plus additional paper, bamboo skewers, drinking straws, and paper clip (as specified in instructions), flying line and winder, per student

Session One: Student Reading/Activities (30-50 minutes)

Use the reading What is “Dihedral” and Why Would I Want Some? to discuss the topic. Extension activities (world’s fairs as a method of international exchange; kite maker William Eddy) are provided. Or, to learn more about the forces that affect a kite’s flight, add the reading Forces of Flight, with extension activities.

Session Two: Student Reading/Activities (30-50 minutes)

Use the reading Meet the Kite Maker: Greg Kono to introduce some of the challenges of kite design and to discuss the usefulness of arts skills in different jobs.

Sessions Three - Four: Decorating, Constructing, and Flying the Kono Dihedral Diamond (50-100 minutes)

Combine the activities of cutting out and decorating the sail, constructing the kite, and flying the kite into one or two sessions.

Follow assembly instructions from the kite kit or from a download.

Remind students that large, bold, colorful designs will be more readily visible in the sky. Tails can also be decorated.

Decorating the kite sail can be integrated with more sustained visual arts instruction in: using line (parallel and/or perpendicular), pattern, and/or geometric shape; decorating by sponge printing with a stencil; making a transfer print to emphasize symmetry.

Take extra tails and spars, plus tape, to the flying field for repairs or additions in heavy winds.

Additional Resources: 

If this is the first experience of making and flying a kite for intermediate-level students, a picture book, The Kite Festival by Leyla Torres (2004), can be useful for introducing, through the context of the narrative, several aspects of flying a kite: how to launch a kite; how to add a tail for stability; how to disentangle from another flier’s line; how to protect one’s hands. The book also includes instructions for making a simple hexagonal kite. Three generations of the Flórez family set off on a Sunday drive, encounter a kite festival, and join in the fun by creating a kite from found materials (luckily, a booth is open to see bamboo from which a frame can be built). The string from little sister’s pull toy, a map, crayons, bandaids, napkins, and a fabric belt all contribute to the kite, and reinforce the point that kites can be made from everyday materials. The grandfather also models the kind of improvisatory persistence that kite fliers call on to overcome problems with bridles or trees.

Teachers and students using the FOSS Variables unit as part of science curriculum can integrate making this kite with the unit by experimenting with variables in the design: changing the dihedral angle; changing the proportions of the diamond shape (how is kite flight affected by the width of the diamond?); changing the length of tails; changing the point at which the spars/straws cross the spine.

To learn more about how dihedral functions in an airplane, link to the article in Aerospaceweb on Wing Twist and Dihedral.

Related Past Projects: 
KAP Showcase / Young Explorer Award