Note: The activities provided below are designed for in-person learning, but may be adapted for virtual classes. Students can participate online where possible and then conduct their experiments on their own, reporting their findings back to the group.
National Paper Airplane Day falls on May 26th. It is believed that after the invention of paper in 500 BCE, paper airplanes started showing up around the world. Even Leonardo Da Vinci used parchment paper to design his models for manned aircraft. Orville and Wilbur Wright were known to study paper aircraft extensively before they made their first historic flight on December 17th, 1903.
National Paper Airplane Day is a day to recognize the accomplishments of our first aviators but even more so, it is a day to create the best paper airplane possible and send it skyward.
The practice of constructing paper planes is an example of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. For more information about origami, check out this link: https://kids.kiddle.co/Origami
Explain that today is National Paper Airplane Day and that they are going to make a paper airplane and then see if it will fly.
Watch the instructional video “How to make Paper Airplanes that fly far and straight” on YouTube.
Tell students to get a piece of paper and then watch the video again, pausing at every step to make sure they are following the directions correctly.
When the airplanes have been constructed, ask students to name their airplane and then have them introduce their plane and show how far it will fly. For online school this can be done indoors, or you can ask students to take their device outside.
Once all students have had a chance to fly their plane, ask:
Repeat the experience and ask students to note which of their two flights went farther. Ask:
Explain that flying a plane is all about how the air moves around the bottom and the top of the plane. If you practise long enough and hold your paper plane in different positions to launch it you might see different results.
Encourage students to fly their planes outside and experiment with different tossing methods. (Remind them to retrieve their planes afterward.)
Challenge students to make other paper airplanes at home and share them with the class.
Explain that today is National Paper Airplane Day and they are going to make paper airplanes.
Watch the video “How to Make a Paper Airplane” and ask students to remember the elements involved in flight.
Explain that they are going to make a paper airplane and then try to market it to a toy company.
Here are the details:
Once the planes are ready, have them presented to the group.
The rest of the class will represent the toy company that is looking for a new paper airplane. They are encouraged to ask questions after the demonstration by the developers.
When all planes have been presented, ask:
Close by challenging students to think about what they have learned about flight and to create additional models at home that fly farther and higher. Invite them to share with the class if they wish.
Explain that today is National Airplane Day.
Challenge students to play the role of an aeronautical engineer and create a paper airplane that will fly farther than any other in the class.
Here are the rules:
Determine a reasonable amount of time for students to investigate and construct their paper airplane. (This might take more than one period, depending on how in-depth you want the activity to be.)
Once the planes have been constructed, the aeronautical engineer(s) present their plane to the class and perform 2 challenge flights. The longest flight is measured and recorded, along with the name of the entry.
After all of the engineers have presented their planes, ask:
Close by inviting students to continue with their interest in this area by setting up a Paper Airplane Club!