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Active Time
10-20 minutes
Total Project Time
10-20 minutes
Key Concepts
Lift, aerodynamics, weight, gravity

Introduction

During the Mars 2020 mission, NASA plans to explore the surface of Mars using a rover in combination with a lightweight helicopter. To be able to fly on Mars, this helicopter must be super light and have very efficient blades. If not, it will never generate enough lift to get off the ground. In this activity, you will make your own paper helicopter and test different blade designs. Will your findings be reflected in NASA's design? Try it out and see for yourself!

Credits

Sabine De Brabandere, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,200 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Computer with access to a printer to print the paper helicopter template. (If you do not have access to a printer, you can use a ruler and pencil to draw your own paper helicopter template based on the online one.)
  • Printer paper
  • Scissors
  • At least 2 identical paper clips
  • A safe, high place from which to drop the paper helicopter. (You could have an adult help you stand on a chair or choose a balcony with safe railing, for example.)
    Materials needed to make a paper helicopter

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Active Time
10-20 minutes
Total Project Time
10-20 minutes
Key Concepts
Lift, aerodynamics, weight, gravity
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