Take off!

Give us a lift


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

Check out the vocabulary for this lesson.

Some objects become airborne and glide in the air.

A glider moves through the air without the help of a motor or engine. When well designed and built, a glider can move through the air and descend gradually.

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 Science Lab Writeup.


Look at how they fly

To understand the effects of lift, thrust, drag, and gravity, watch the following video clips.


Take off

Drag and Gravity

Drag and Gravity

Making a connection with friction--How did they stop that thing?

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


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 your instructor.

Done Early?

Research the question, "Why can't we fly a plane in space?"

Space Planes

Summarize the article for 5 extra lab points.