Make Your Own Airplane

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The Great Airplane Challenge

Have you ever wanted to be involved in airplane test flights? Have you wished that you could be in a nationwide science project? Well, here is your chance. A fifth-grade class from Danville, California, designed many different paper airplane structures. They tested each one to see how the different kinds of planes flew. Some types of planes would fly far, and some would just fall to the floor.

The basic design of the airplane is made out of construction paper, straws, and masking tape. This is the structure of the plane that they started with:

Here's how you can create this plane:
1. Cut two strips of construction paper 4 centimeters wide and 20 centimeters long. (the width of the paper).
2. Make a circle with one of the strips of paper. Put one end over the other and tape them together.
3. Repeat step #2 to make a second circle.
4. Tape one end of the straw on the inside of one of the paper circles, where you taped the paper's ends together.
5. Tape the other end of the straw to the inside of the second paper circle, where the tape is.
6. Cut another strip of paper 4 centimeters wide and 20 centimeters long.
7. Place this paper on the outsides of the circle on the opposite side of the straw. This paper will act as a support for your plane.

What do you think you could change about this plane to make it fly better? Would adding more hoops help? What about the size of the hoops? How about adding or subtracting supports? What could you add to your plane to make it fly different ways? Use your imagination!!

Now test your prediction. Did whatever you added make your plane fly differently. How?

Try playing with more than one airplane design and measure how far each one flies. Also, make sure to write down HOW the plane flew. Did it fly straight? Did it curve to the side? Did it make loops?
After your plane's test flights you can go to the
Data Page

and tell us how your plane flew! You can also mail your results to:

Miami University
Oxford, Ohio 45056
or fax it to (513) 529-8574. We would love to see a picture of your plane, a photograph, or a drawing. That would be great!

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