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Pulaski Elementary Students Build Hovercrafts while Developing Life Skills


A former Illinois teacher and his family recently brought their renowned hovercraft-building project to students at Lura M. Sharp Elementary, taking hands-on learning to a higher level.


Matthew Chase, who founded The Hovercraft Project Inc., said his innovative program allows teams of students to use critical thinking and collaboration skills to independently build their own air-cushion vehicle – without the help of teachers or staff.


“If they fail, they fail and I accept that,” he said. “But very few of them ever fail because they learn that they can do this with the knowledge they’ve got.”


The goal, Chase said, is “to get students to learn to love to learn.” The owner of the Sarasota, Fla.-based business has been so successful at what he does, he’s taken his nearly 20-year-old business on the road from Texas to the East Coast.


“Students don’t know exactly what a hovercraft is, but they’re going to find out that these things don’t touch the ground, they get on them and they can fly,” he said. “You tell any kid that they can build a thing in school that they fly and they’re in.”


Chase believes hands-on learning is effective for students because it allows them to solve problems in real time and create a tangible outcome that’s fun and rewarding.


“I saw how students learn with their hands-on projects and they ended up learning more than I taught them,” he said. “I thought ‘Well, wait, if you can just put projects in kids’ hands and get out of the way, they’ll learn more than any adult can ever teach them.’”