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Paper Airplane Test Flights


Today's Snack: There's a famous airline, Southwest, that always gives passengers a snack of peanuts. So have a handful or two of peanuts today, with a glass of water. If you're allergic, have a handful or two of raisins. They are yummy, too! Mmmmm! That'll . . . FLY with you, won't it? :>)






One piece of tissue paper

One sheet of loose-leaf notebook paper

One magazine page

One full sheet of newspaper

One-half of a cardboard file folder (cut along spine)

One piece of poster board

Chalk or masking tape

30- or 50-foot tape measure



It's tricky to balance the weight and size of a machine that moves so that it'll go as fast as you want it to, and not burn too much fuel.


Now imagine the trick to building an airplane that will fly "true" - meaning straight! - as well as use fuel efficiently.


As you throw a paper airplane into the air, the craft will use your muscles and the air as its "motion lotion." But does it make a difference what kind of paper your airplane is made out of?



Let's find out! Let's make some test planes, and try them.


If you can do this inside, in a school gym, with no crosswind, you'll probably be happier. But if it's a still, calm day, you can do this outside.


Make six different paper airplanes out of the six kinds of paper listed above. Don't know how to fold paper airplanes? Get tips on, with lots of information about "aerodynamics" (air o die NAM iks), which is the science of making airplanes fly.


Talk to other kids and your teacher or leader, and make a hypothesis (hi POTH eh sis), or educated guess, about which plane you think will fly the farthest, and which one you think will fly the shortest distance . . . and be sure to add "why" you think that about them.


Now, mark a starting line on the ground with chalk (outside, on playground pavement, for example) or masking tape (if you're inside, in the gym).


Keeping your feet behind the starting line, throw each of your six plants as carefully as you can. Try to use the same motion when you let each one go. Let them stay where they fall.


When you have thrown all six, measure how far they flew. Keep track on a piece of paper.


Did you find out that the firmer the paper is, the longer the plane will stay in the air? But if the paper is TOO firm, it won't fly very far?


Why do you think this is?


Would you like to fly or design aircraft when you grow up? Who wouldn't!?! If that's your goal . . . reach for the stars!



By Susan Darst Williams Vehicles & Machines 02 2011


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