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Science Experiment: Aerodynamics – Paper Airplanes

The Kids' Guide to Paper Airplanes [1]Find More [2] Science Experiments

If you love airplanes, try out some of these paper creations. If you understand how the forces of aerodynamics work, you can make a plane that flies far. In The Kids’ Guide to Paper Airplanes the  directions are really clear with color photographs to help you make the folds correctly. The planes start out easy and get harder and harder as you move through the book. The last plane requires 18 folds! The author even includes some tips for getting these planes to fly far.

What You Need:

Do you know why paper airplanes fly? They fly because of the forces that affect movement on earth. These forces are thrust, drag, lift and gravity.

Here are some websites that will help you understand aerodynamics and how to make good paper airplanes:


Science Rocks! Fly a Dart (page 52) and Fly a Glider (page 53)

Streg Nona: Her Story [13] Super Simple Paper Airplanes [14] Making Paper Airplanes [15] Paper Airplanes [16]

Words to Know:

Lift –  The force that is opposite the weight of an airplane and holds the airplane in the air.
Drag – Air pushing back on the plane as it moves forward.
Thrust – What makes the airplane move forward. This can be a propeller, a jet engine, or your throwing arm.
Gravity – The force that pulls objects back to the earth.
Aerodynamics – Aero means air and dynamics means motion. Aerodynamics  is the study of motion through the air.

Look at NASA: Four Forces on an Airplane [17] for a great diagram and explanation of these aerodynamic forces.

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