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THE PAPER AIRPLANE
This spring we attended FIRST Championships with YETI Robotics in St. Louis, Missouri. It was a trip of epic proportions for our family, but one of the highlights of our trip was such a simple thing – the humble paper airplane. While waiting for the awards ceremony we were initiated into a FIRST tradition – engineering and folding a paper airplane that would fly from the highest balcony onto the stage of the Edward Jones Dome. The video below will give you a small taste of what it was like.
In an auditorium with tens of thousands of geeks and engineers only a handful of planes were successful – and their flights were beautiful. If you had asked us before that trip, ‘Can you make a paper airplane?’, we wouldn’t have blinked before answering, ‘Yes!’ Now we would pause and ask, ‘A paper airplane that does what?’
What makes an airplane fly?
There are four basic forces involved in flight whether that is the flight of a 747 or an 8 1/2″ by 11″ piece of paper. Those four forces are:
Thrust Drag Weight Lift
Hop on over to one of our favorite sites, Aviation For Kids and scroll down to the section ‘How Paper Airplanes Fly’. It’s one of the most well written explanations that I have found. Make sure you understand the role of each of those forces in flight before doing this weeks challenge.
Spend a few more minutes learning about the different kinds of paper airplanes and how they work. We suggest The Paper Airplane Guy. We love his website, videos, and book. This video is a bit long but it’s one of our favorites.
Now that you’ve done all this research it’s time for a challenge!
design your own paper airplane
Think about a paper airplane and how you would like it to perform. Do you want it to speed across the room? Do you want to throw it from the top of the stairs and have it gently land on the floor or do you want it to perform loops and tricks?
Now make your paper airplane and throw it. Don’t just fold a plane someone else designed – the challenge is to design your own and you have all week.
How did your plane fly? Jot down some notes, document the flight with a sketch, or even take some measurements.
Make another with modifications to improve on any performance issues you had. If you don’t know how to fix it google it.
When you get a plane that you are happy with post a picture or video on our FaceBook Page or tweet us @big_green_chair using the tag #homeschoolgeek #biggreenchair.
Come back this evening for a follow up post about this design process.
Share your picture or video using #homeschoolgeek #biggreenchair by 8pm on Friday for a chance to win a copy of The New World Champion Paper Airplane Book!