A plane designed by John Collins set a new world record last week. Thrown by former football quarterback Joe Ayoob, the plane flew 226 feet, 10 inches in an indoor hangar on the McClellan Air Force Base, breaking the previous record by more than 19 feet!
Folding paper airplanes is an age-old and ageless pastime. How many planes does the average person fold in a lifetime? How many have you folded? Probably more than you can count!
While not everyone can fold or remember the intricate steps involved in folding a paper crane, most people have, at one time or another, grabbed a sheet of paper and folded an airplane. Whether the plane is a classic design with speed and distance in mind or a stunt or trick plane, there is that moment when you give the bottom edge one last crease, hold it up, and throw it across the room. Like riding a bike, once you know how to fold a paper dart, you'll probably always be able to fold one. But how far can a paper dart fly? What kind of throw works best? How do design variations affect flight? What's the best paper for the longest flight? What size paper should you use? These are all great questions to ask, and they are questions students can explore in fun, flight-based science projects!
Students interested in investigating the aerodynamics of paper airplanes may enjoy the following projects:
- How Far Will It Fly? Build and Test Various Paper Planes: explore various forces that act upon a paper airplane in flight, including lift, drag, and thrust. This project looks, specifically, at the effectiveness of different paper types.
- What Makes a Good Aerodynamic Design? Test Your Ideas with High-Performance Paper Gliders: use layers of paper (laminated construction) to build sturdier gliders before creating a custom project testing specific features of plane design and flight.
Parents/educators: these projects can be great investigations to do with kids at home or after school!