By Ishanni Gokli ’18
“I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.” – Kurt Hahn
Experiential education is a fundamental part of being an Athenian student. Our students truly take pride in having it as a part of our daily curriculum, and an exemplary example of this is the Advanced Physics project taken on by Akshay Shah, Trenton Tan, and Anthony Ottati ’16.
The Athenian class of ‘71 alum, Tim Holm, with his love of hang-gliding and adventure, inspired them to design and take on this project.
Tim Holm always wanted to build and fly a plane but never thought he would have the funding to do so. During Athenian’s Project Week (now Interim), Holm designed and built a plane for $8. His launch wasn’t successful and Holm cracked a vertebra. However, Holm felt grateful and passionate for his experience. In a reflection on this flight, he wrote, “Not once have I regretted my decision to fly, for now, I know that I can.”
“We really wanted to explore and innovate like Tim Holm would have,” said Shah. “Our choice to attempt to make a biplane hang glider really lets us make use of the experiential learning aspect offered at Athenian: which I think Tim Holm would have been into.”
Akshay described their process of trial and error: “We went to Home Depot and bought all the materials we needed. Bruce Hamren gave us the cloth for the final design. We started by looking up a few designs and going through the pros and cons of each. We decided on a biplane design since it was the most effective. The three of us built it in the Maker’s Studio and outside of the orchard classrooms. We did have some problems throughout the building process, especially with attaching the cloth to the pipes, but we improvised and it ended up working out.”
By taking on this inspiring feat, it speaks to how Athenian students challenge themselves for the pursuit of knowledge and the spirit of adventure.