FlyBy Math: Distance-Rate-Time Problems in Air Traffic Control

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this small-group activity, learners assume the roles of pilots, air traffic controllers, and NASA scientists to solve five Air Traffic Control (ATC) problems. Learners examine different distance-rate-time air traffic scenarios that an air traffic controller might encounter. Each Air Traffic Control Problem features a Student Workbook containing an air traffic control experiment, paper-and-pencil calculations to support the experiment, and a student analysis of the experiment and calculations. The Workbook can be supplemented with optional pre- and post-tests. The FlyBy MathTM curriculum materials also include video clips to introduce learners to the nation’s air traffic control system. Each Air Traffic Control Problem is accompanied by an Educator Guide with a full set of answers and solutions, as well as suggestions for implementing the specific airspace scenario.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Rate
    • Number and Operations
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Gravity
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Projectile Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
    • Science as a Career

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • hear
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Condon, Gregory W. ; Landesman, Miriam


  • Public domain, NASA,

Funding Source:

  • EG-2004-11-111-ARC