Fly, You Fools!

Published: 2016-02-29 03:17 |

Category: Science |

This semester, a few classes asked for bi-weekly review over the entire year so they can keep old material fresh. I was really happy to get these requests because it shows a higher level of maturity than I’ve seen lately and that they recognize that old stuff still applies.

State testing starts this week (blargh) so I decided to use Friday and today to do some review over forces with a paper airplane challenge.

We spent some time discussing balanced and unbalanced forces, what causes acceleration, and what forces might be acting on a moving aircraft. Then, I tasked groups of three with building aircraft that would 1) fly really far, and 2) stay in the air for a long time. It’s tough to do because you can either go right for the glide or shoot for something that handles projectile motion a little more effectively for increased distance.

Most groups split the difference with an in-between design which led to pretty consistent success on both counts.


The lab isn’t perfect. There are things I’ll change for next year. It would be great in the forces unit, but I think I’ll keep it as review because 1) it’s a good break up of the monotony, especially in testing season, and 2) we can apply material immediately rather than slogging through principles.

Plus, it’s hard to be discouraged with the state of education when you hear cheers about a paper gliding for 20+ meters down the hallway.

Here’s the document if you’re interested in running this with your students.

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