How does a helicopter stay in the air? In this week's aerodynamics-themed family science activity, students can learn more about helicopters by making and testing simple miniature paper helicopters or whirly birds. Paper whirly birds don't have any mechanical parts, but their structure helps kids better understand how the blades on a helicopter function. What do principles of lift and drag have to do with the spinning of a helicopter's blades? What happens if you add additional weight to the blades? Does changing the overall material of the whirly bird change how it flies? Put questions like these to the test by making and dropping your own paper whirly birds from a high point so you can observe how they fall to the ground!
- Make a "Whirly Bird" from Paper (Science Buddies project idea)
- Make a Whirlybird from Paper (science activity at Scientific American)