To synthesize knowledge and skills gained from several other topics in the course to build and test paper glider designs and make decisions about the use of the designs based on the scientific results of the testing.
The Paper Airplane Project will take place over Modules 5-8. The project will apply concepts from several modules and is worth a significant portion of your course grade.
In this project, you will first choose two different glider types that you think will be worthy of entering into a mock paper glider competition – one designed for flight distance (straight line distance as measured from take-off point to landing point) competition, and one designed for flight duration (longest in-flight time competition. You will then independently build and test your chosen designs. Finally, you will report the results of your independent testing to the class (where the best performing gliders of those tested in each of the two categories will be recognized) and engage in a discussion with your instructor and classmates in reflecting on your learning experiences during the project.
In completing the project, you will apply the scientific method and synthesize concepts related to aircraft performance and meteorology.
The project will be completed in three parts.
Part 1 – Glider Design Selection
In part 1 of the project, you will select two competition glider designs that you will later build and test for paper glider competition worthiness.
Research and decide on two glider designs – one designed for long-distance, and another designed for a long duration of flight. Your objective is to choose two gliders that will, independently, do very well in each category.
In choosing the designs, keep the following restrictions in mind:
Each glider’s materials will be restricted to a single, complete sheet of 8.5 x 11-inch standard weight copy paper (20 lb bond / standard A4 format – mass = 4.5 grams).
The glider will be modified by folding only – no addition of other materials, ripping, gluing, or cutting.
You are not restricted in any way on the sources used to find potential glider designs, but here are two sources:
Amazing Paper Planes – Basic Dart Designs (Links to an external site.)
Fold N’ Fly (Links to an external site.)
Before making a final decision on your two choices, do some preliminary testing of each design. Build one or two test gliders according to the instructions, and do some test flights to get a rough idea of how it performs.
Experiment with different thrust methods for each of the test glider designs for achieving the objective (distance or duration of flight). Hint: review the videos of the world record glider flights in the Background and Motivation section.
If a design performs poorly in preliminary testing, choose a different design.
Repeat step 2. until you’ve found a promising performer for each of the two required design types.
Formulate a hypothesis* for each of your chosen designs that incorporate predictions for how each of the four main forces that act on aircraft will affect the motion of the glider in allowing it to achieve its objective (distance or duration).
* You may want to review the definition of a hypothesis from our lesson on the scientific method in Module 1.
Create a document that includes:
the name of each glider design
a reference (URL) that contains an image of each glider and the instructions for building it
the hypothesis for each design (see 3. above)
a specific description for how thrust should be imparted to each glider design to maximize its desired performance (distance or duration)
By the end of Module 5, submit your document fulfilling the above four criteria for grading by the instructor in Module 5 – Paper Airplane Project Part 1 – Glider Design Selection.
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