Airplanes 

Parts Needed:
  • 6 Models

  • Paper Clips 

  • Paper

  • Tacks

  • Popsicle sticks 

  • Rubber bands 

Extra Tools: 
  • Scissors 

  • One hot glue gun

  • Needle nose pliers 

  • Tape 

  • Markers for decorations 

Project Description:
Airplane with bottom fold 

Fold the sheet in half the long way. Open it again. Fold the two top corners in to the centerline.  Fold the top point over.

Fold the two top corners in again, but leave a flat space on the top.  Fold a small triangle up over the two flaps to lock them down.

Fold along the centerline then fold the wings back down.  The points at the back of the wings function as the elevators.  If your plane goes up, bend them down; if it goes down, bend them up.  One up and one down will make the plane turn and possibly corkscrew. 

Unfold the long end of the paper clip 90 degrees. Put the paper clip in the center slightly towards the front of the airplane. Poke the open end of the paper clip through the middle crease, so that it sticks out below the airplane.

Hot glue the paper clip in place, closing the fold of the airplane. Cut most of the paper clip off leaving enough to hook the rubber band.

 
Glider with flat bottom 

Fold top two corners across and down making creases. 

Fold the creases in making a pointy top. Fold the bottom tips back up to the top. 

Fold the top point down and the two side points up so that they meet. Crease them well. Find the pockets in the top point and insert the two side points into these pockets.   

Flip over the airplane. Fold both side edges up a bit to make vertical stabilizers. 

Make small cuts on the tail with scissors. Fold the small rectangular section up a bit. These are the elevators.

To build the launcher, make a hole in the popsicle stick with the tack. Take it out then glue it back in. 

Put hot glue on top of the popsicle stick. Glue it to the bottom of the airplane, exactly in the middle, with the head sticking out just a bit. 

 
Launcher 

Connect the two rubber bands. Then connect them to the Popsicle stick.

Hook the rubber bands to the tack or the paperclip.  Hold the Popsicle stick vertically in front of the plane while pulling the plane back with the other hand.  Upon release, drop the Popsicle stick a bit so that the plane does not run into it. 

A Bit More Info:

Aerodynamics and fluid mechanics can get very complicated, but it is quite simple to think about what makes these paper airplanes fly the way they do.  When you toss a paper plane, you give it forward motion.  Air is the fluid that the plane is flying through.  The air will hit the surfaces of the plane just as water would.  The angle of the surface will determine the force the air puts on the plane. 

 

If the elevators are sticking up, the air will hit them and push the rear of the plane down. The nose of the plane will then stick up, sending the plane upward.  If the elevators are sticking down, the opposite will happen. 

 

A real airplane has at least three control surfaces, one for each of the dimensions in which is it free to travel. On the ground, we are used to traveling in two dimensions: forward/backward and right/left. Airplanes have an additional one: up/down. Whereas a car can only turn right or left, an airplane can turn on each of its three axes:

  • Tilting its nose up or down is called “pitch,” and is controlled by the elevators.

  • Swinging its nose right or left is called “yaw,” and is controlled by the rudder, which is part of the vertical surface on the tail of the plane.

  • Tilting one wing up and the other down is called “roll,” and is controlled by the ailerons, which are on the trailing edge of the two wing tips, and which move in opposition to each other:  when one goes up the other goes down.

 

Some people call the elevators on these paper airplanes “elevons,” because they can make the plane roll as well as pitch.  An additional complexity is that airplanes actually use ailerons to make turns, “flying around the corner,” so to speak. This is different from a boat, which uses the rudder.

 

The materials and construction of a plane are extremely important because the overall weight and the distribution of weight on an airplane will determine whether it will fly or not.  It is possible to make a few airplanes from aluminum foil, especially gliders.  If you put too many rubber bands on the stick, the plane will be torn apart as it launches.  On the moon there is no air, so the planes would not fly at all, but instead behave just as if you had thrown a rock. You provide the energy to make the planes fly, and you get your energy from food, which in turn gets its energy from the sun. 

Concepts:
  1. Elevators are the horizontal surfaces on the back of a plane that change its angle as it flies.

  2. There are two main factors that will change the way the plane flies:  the weight in the front, and the angle of the elevators.

  3. That said, every surface is important; a good plane will be beautiful and perfectly symmetric.

 
Questions:
  1. What do you think would happen if you made a plane out of aluminum foil?

  2. What do you think would happen if you put more rubber bands on the stick?

  3. How do you think these airplanes would work on the moon?

  4. Where does the energy come from to make these airplanes fly?

© 2020 by Victoria Matelli, Calvin Norwood, Jade Murray

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