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This is a great activity for investigating the basics of lift and drag as they pertain to flight. Learners will discover how to avoid "taking a nosedive" by building their own paper airplane. Includes instructions for modifying the paper airplanes to achieve different flight patterns. Learners can go further by trying their own designs and modifications. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Several 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper.
  • Optional targets - these can be cones, other sheets of paper, Xs taped to the floor, or anything else at which you can aim a paper airplane.


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Projectile Motion
      • Center of Gravity
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • TryScience