Amagasaki, Hyogo, April 22, 2015—Bayer Holding (Headquarters: Chiyoda, Tokyo; President: Hans-Dieter Hausner) hosted the “Bayer Innovative Airplane Workshop at Nagasu Elementary School” on April 22 for the 65 fifth graders at Nagasu Elementary School in Amagasaki.
The workshop was held to mark the overflight of Japan by Solar Impulse 2, a revolutionary aircraft now making an around-the-world tour using only solar energy for its power and incorporating Bayer technology. Leading the lesson was guest lecturer Satoru Shinohe, the first person to successfully pilot a manned electric aircraft in Japan and the country’s top expert on solar-powered flight. Shinohe started off with a lecture on Solar Impulse 2, and then guided the children through the construction of their own rubber band-powered model airplanes to provide them with an idea of the principles of flight that help keep Solar Impulse 2 aloft. After completing their airplanes, the students took turns flying them in a flight endurance contest. The winning airplane achieved a total flight time of 18 seconds in two rounds that lasted 11 and 7 seconds.
A hands-on introduction to the magic and science of flight
Miho Oka, Head of Communications for Bayer in Japan, opened the gathering with a short speech in which she told the children that they would learn about an airplane that uses state-of-the-art technology, and expressed her hope that the lesson would encourage them to take a liking to science. Next, she told the children about how Bayer was supporting the Solar Impulse 2 project as an official sponsor by supplying high-performance polyurethanes insulation for the aircraft’s cockpit and other parts of the fuselage. She showed them an actual sample of the insulation foam as she explained its function.
Afterwards, Shinohe began his lecture, prefacing it with a look back on his early fascination with the blue sky: “When I was a boy, I fell in love with aircraft and decided that I would become an aircraft designer some day. Although I ended up not taking a job at an aviation company after graduating from college, I didn’t give up on my dream. I eventually started up a business called Aircraft Olympos and became its president. Currently, my company is the only manufacturer of solar aircraft in Japan.” He then explained the appeal of the Solar Impulse 2 project in terms easy for elementary school children to follow. “Solar Impulse 2 is four times bigger than the planes I build. Thanks to its high-performance batteries, Solar Impulse can stay in the air both day and night,” he noted, adding, “The level of technology in this plane is just amazing.”
For the second half of the lesson, Shinohe instructed the fifth graders in how to assemble the model airplane kits supplied to each of them. The children excitedly added a personal touch to their airplanes by decorating the wings with colorful pictures and patterns. As soon as each airplane was completed, it was put to the test in a flight endurance competition in which two flights were made. The winning entry stayed aloft for 11 seconds in the first attempt and 7 in the next, making for a total of 18 seconds of air time.
The top three aviators were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals from Bayer in front of their fellow pupils, who let out hoots of surprise and awe when the first-place finisher’s record was announced. As the event came to a close, Shinohe encouraged the children to pursue their dreams, declaring, “I hope that what you experienced here today will inspire you to explore the things you really like and to take up all sorts of challenges.”