Intrapersonal Students will use Internet and other sources to research airplane design strategies.
From their research, students will make and fly paper airplanes. They will then evaluate and adjust their designs according to their results.
Flight whether it involves an actual airplane or a paper one includes the same forces of gravity,
lift, drag, and thrust. These forces act in pairs. When the downward force of gravity is less than the upward force of lift, the plane rises in the air. When thrust, pushing the plane
forward, is greater than the drag holding the plane back, the plane moves forward.
Internet Students will evaluate paper airplane designs obtained from Internet sites that can be
accessed through the Web links page or by other similar Internet sites.
Non-Internet Sources If you do not have Internet access, use books on paper airplanes, such as those
listed as references on page 373.
One class period is required to research various designs and choose which to use. Two days should be allowed
for experimenting with the designs and various materials. One-half class period is needed to decide on contest rules, and one class period should be used for the actual contest.
In addition to what the students bring to class, have supplies on hand. Different types of paper might be especially useful.
Internet If students will be using computers that might be shared with other classes, arrange access
with the person in charge. Check out and become familiar with the links for paper airplane design on the Web links page.
Non-Internet Sources Obtain reference books containing paper airplane designs for students to use.
- Encourage students who have Internet experience to help those students who do not.
- Encourage students to use paper clips as weights to adjust the flight of their airplanes. For example, a paper
clip fastened on the nose of an airplane that loops up instead of flying straight will make the plane fly straighter.
- Remind students that only one variable should be changed at a time.
- Be sure students have proportions as well as general shape indicated in the sketches of their designs.
Answers to Conclude and Apply
- Answers will vary, but the winning planes probably had narrow wings and were made of slick paper.
- Planes that flew for a longer period of time but a shorter distance probably had wider wings that increased
Have students use the Internet to find out what airplane manufacturers do to reduce drag and increase
To assess the results of the project, use the Performance Task Assessment List for Model in PASC, p. 51.
Baker, Arthur. Cut & Assemble Paper Airplanes That Fly. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1982.
Mander, Jerry, George Dippel, and Howard Gossage. The Great International Paper Airplane Book. New York:
Simon & Shuster, 1975.
Simon, Seymour. The Paper Airplane Book. New York: Viking Press, 1976.