Jump to main content

Which Wing Design Creates the Greatest Lift?

325 reviews


Areas of Science
Time Required
Average (6-10 days)
Access to a homemade wind tunnel
Material Availability
Readily available
Average ($50 - $100)
Christian H. Selby,
Andrew Olson, Ph.D., Science Buddies
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.


Have you ever flown in an airplane, or looked up at one flying in the sky, and wondered how such a massive machine can stay in the air? Airplanes can stay in the air because their wings, also referred to as airfoils, generate lift. Engineers use devices called wind tunnels to experiment and test different wing shapes when they design new airplanes. Wind tunnels let engineers make careful measurements of the air flow around the wing, and measure the amount of lift it generates.

If you can get access to a wind tunnel or build your own using the Science Buddies How to Build and Use a Subsonic Wind Tunnel tutorial, then you can do a science project where you measure the lift generated by different types of airfoils. You will need to do a lot of background research about aerodynamics and the terminology involved, and you will probably need help from an adult if you are going to build your own wind tunnel. Can you compare different wing designs and find out which one generates the most lift?


NASA's Glenn Research Center has a wealth of information on Aeronautics. We recommend that you take some time to explore this site, there's a lot of good stuff here. The "Guided Tours" are an excellent way to navigate through the material.

This page has links to several sources of information on aerodynamics:

Here is a link to an online airfoil simulation programs. You can test and refine your design ideas on the computer before building the actual models.

icon scientific method

Ask an Expert

Do you have specific questions about your science project? Our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Global Connections

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

This project explores topics key to Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.


  • If building a wind tunnel is not an option for you, it doesn't mean that you can't do an aerodynamics project. For example, kites are a great way to learn about aerodynamics. The Wright brothers used kites to test many of their design ideas for their airplane. For more information, see: The Wright Stuff: Using Kites to Study Aerodynamics.


If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

Career Profile
Humans have always longed to fly and to make other things fly, both through the air and into outer space—aerospace engineers are the people that make those dreams come true. They design, build, and test vehicles like airplanes, helicopters, balloons, rockets, missiles, satellites, and spacecraft. Read more
Career Profile
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians are essential to the development of new aircraft and space vehicles. They build, test, and maintain parts for air and spacecraft, and assemble, test, and maintain the vehicles as well. They are key members of a flight readiness team, preparing space vehicles for launch in clean rooms, and on the launch pad. They also help troubleshoot launch or flight failures by testing suspect parts. Read more

News Feed on This Topic

, ,

Cite This Page

General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Which Wing Design Creates the Greatest Lift?" Science Buddies, 5 Aug. 2023, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Aero_p004/aerodynamics-hydrodynamics/wing-design-lift. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2023, August 5). Which Wing Design Creates the Greatest Lift? Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Aero_p004/aerodynamics-hydrodynamics/wing-design-lift

Last edit date: 2023-08-05
Free science fair projects.