This project has many parts!
I started planning for the paper airplane challenge and it quickly blossomed into a major experiment. It involves testing, data keeping, improving the design, and using the data for building a final plane.
It also took some clever structuring of the testing and measuring to get an entire class through the challenge.
This is a multi-day project for sure:
- Exploring Day
- Testing Day
- Designing Day
This was the most fun day ever! Imagine a group of fourth graders that are given a stack of paper and told to build and fly paper airplanes- with no rules!
- Every team folds a new plane and they are all folded the same. (Control that variable)
- Every team chooses one person to be the plane thrower. (Again, we are trying to control a variable. Even though the same person throws each time, it is likely that the throws will not be exactly alike.)
- I stretch a long reel measuring tape along the longest length of our lab. It is taped to the floor in a few spots. It’s a meter tape and we measure in meters/cm.
- Each team’s flyer lines up at the end of the tape reel. One student at a time throws a plane.
- Each team also sends a spotter to the landing zone to help spot the landing point of each plane.
- I call out the measurement of the plane – like this 7.8- which means 7 meters, 80 centimeters.
- A third team member records this measurement.
- This is repeated until each team has flown the plane 3 times. Then all team members go back to their work area and average the flights.
- The team modifies the plane and we test it again. This is repeated one more time.