My second grade scientists have studied force, motion, and space, so a paper airplane lab was a perfect fit. We reviewed gravity and friction and then I introduced three new forces: lift, thrust, and drag. Click here to watch a video about these forces.
My aerospace engineers made paper airplanes at home prior to lab. They were free to ask others for help and to research designs online (with parental help) because scientists collaborate! We reviewed the Engineer Design Process: Define the Problem, Imagine, Plan, Create, Test, and Improve. As we looked at all our classmates’ planes, we noticed a variety of wing designs and nose shapes. Some planes were stapled or taped together. Planes were a variety of sizes and made from different types of paper. I was so excited by the work my engineers put into this project. Many of them told me that they made several designs, and tested them before they chose the design to bring to school. Want to try more designs? Click here for a great paper airplane design resource.
After we shared our designs, we tested them. We discovered that the way we threw our airplanes directly impacted how far they flew.
Then, we looked at the airplanes that traveled the furthest to see if there were any similarities. The following engineers had the most successful designs.
This design flew double the distance of any other airplane-almost the entire length of the gym. It was constructed of cardstock.
Mr. Swegman demonstrated how to throw an airplane.