Screen-Free Summer Idea #17:  Set up a paper airplane test lab!

We have reached the point here in north Texas where it is just too hot to be outside very much at all during the day!  A paper airplane lab was a great way to burn off some energy on a hot afternoon.

For our airplane lab, we got out:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard from cereal boxes (not pictured)
  • Glue
  • Tape (not pictured)
  • Scissors
  • Paper clips – for adding weight
  • Play doh – for adding weight

We tried different plane designs to see which flew the farthest, etc.

This design was from a book that we have called Paper Pilot. The book shows how to build different paper airplanes and also explains how adding weight and changing the wing shape, etc. can affect how the planes fly.  This plane acted very differently with the paper clips up front vs. in the middle of the plane.  It actually flew better with the weight in the middle!

This glider flies more smoothly with play doh on the nose as a weight.  You can make the same glider with a short/fat wing piece and see which one flies better!  Also, a basic folded paper airplane will fly more smoothly with a couple paper clips on the nose.

What kind of planes do your kids like to make?

(P.S. – I made my kids throw away all their planes after the afternoon was over.  I get so tired of finding them ALL over the house!  I figure that they were fun to build, test, and fly, but they are not a “forever craft.”  Am I a mean mom, or do you do that too?)


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  1. Shelly Smith Jul 5, 2012

    I do that too!! However, I am a covert trasher of crafts, and I do it after they are in bed, he he! Then, I just have to come up with a new idea the next day for a fun craft, and they forget all about the previously trashed crafts!

  2. Julia Bennett Jul 5, 2012

    We have a small drawer in the kitchen. When the drawer fills up, we go through and throw most of the papers and crafts away.

  3. Linda Jul 6, 2012

    If it is important to them and they put it up in their room, it can stay. Also we might take pictures. If it ends up laying around or on the floor, then it quickly finds it's way to the recycle bin or trash.

    Love the scientific part of your craft!


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