Take off!

Give us a lift


What makes a glider fly far? Let's run a controlled experiment.

Check out the vocabulary.

Some objects become airborne and glide in the air.

A glider moves through the air without the help of a motor or engine.

A glider can move through the air and descend gradually when it is well designed and built.

What do you need to think about aerodynamics to build a glider that will fly well?

In this lesson we build a paper glider and research the concepts of flight and aerodynamics.

The assessment for this lesson is based on the Lab Write-up rubric.


Look at how they fly

In order to understand the affects of lift, thrust, drag, and gravity watch the following video clips. (Microsoft Media Player required).

Lift Video Clip
Thrust Video Clip
Drag and Gravity Video Clip

Experiment Materials:

Each person needs:

  1. 2 - 4 sheets of construction paper
  2. 1 sheet of paper, paper clips, or staples to provide extra weight
  3. Scotch or masking tape
  4. Use the instructions to make a paper glider.


Use chair or a ladder to test if we can make the gliders travels farther. As always safety first. Check with you teacher to make sure the area is safe.


F-18 Hornet

What makes a jet or glider fly?.

What will you do to make your glider fly longer or to fly on a straighter path?

Experiment Steps

  1. Make a paper glider following the instructions on the following handout..
  2. Fly the glider and see how well it stays in the air, floats, glides, and descends to the ground.

    Does the glider take a nose dive?

    Does the glider spin and wobble around?

    If so, why do you think it does that?

    Are parts of the glider too light or heavy?

  3. Record the distance and outcomes in your experiment log.

    Do you think a little weight would have an affect on a glider?
  4. Apply weight to the second glider.
  5. Repeat step 2 & 4 with your second glider.

Complete the lab write-up. Turn it in or e-mail it to you instructor.

Done Early?

Research the quetion "Why can't we fly a plane in space"

Space Planes

Summerize the article for 5 extra lab points.

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Last modified: 5/30/2012