Kids love making paper airplanes. It’s such a quick and easy way to spend the afternoon. It’s also the perfect STEAM activity. Take your paper airplane making session to the next level by designing a paper airplane experiment.

Research, design, make, decorate & fly your own paper planes in this STEAM challenge for kids. Will yours go the furthest, fly the longest, hit the target

The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

In The Great Paper Caper, the trees in the forest are being cut down and the animals want to know why. They hunt for clues and find paper airplanes everywhere. Eventually, they find a bear with a paper making machine. He’s turning all of the trees into paper because he wants to win the paper airplane competition. He apologizes for ruining the forest and vows to plant new trees. This book will encourage your child to make paper airplanes. However, it also brings about the point that we shouldn’t waste paper in the name of paper airplane making. Use paper from the recycling bin or better yet turn your artwork into paper airplanes.

Paper Airplane Experiment

The goal of this experiment is to test different airplane designs.

  • Which airplane will travel the farthest distance?
  • Which airplane will spend the longest time in the air?
  • Which airplane will land closest to a target?
Research, design, make, decorate & fly your own paper planes in this STEAM challenge for kids. Will yours go the furthest, fly the longest, hit the target

The first step is of course to design and make your paper airplanes.

Kids will need to learn how to make a paper airplane from somewhere.

Parents – this is the perfect time to bring out your favorite paper airplane design from childhood. My best design actually came from a fourth grade student of mine. He showed me how to make the plane and I was allowed to make planes with his design for anyone.

However, I had to promise not to teach anyone else how to make his design. That was years ago, but it’s still my favorite plane design and it’s the one I make for my kids.

My husband has his own go-to airplane design as well.

Watch the video below for some great examples of different airplanes to make

Research, design, make, decorate & fly your own paper planes in this STEAM challenge for kids. Will yours go the furthest, fly the longest, hit the target

After creating the planes, Aiden and Lily colored them. Then, we went outside to fly them.

Research, design, make, decorate & fly your own paper planes in this STEAM challenge for kids. Will yours go the furthest, fly the longest, hit the target

We measured how far each plane traveled. We also recorded how long they flew in the air. The longest hang time didn’t always travel the farthest.

Research, design, make, decorate & fly your own paper planes in this STEAM challenge for kids. Will yours go the furthest, fly the longest, hit the target

Last, we flew the planes towards a target. (We chose a big rock in our yard.) We measured how close the planes landed to the target. The test was about distance and accuracy.

Could the plane go to where you wanted it to?

Research, design, make, decorate & fly your own paper planes in this STEAM challenge for kids. Will yours go the furthest, fly the longest, hit the target

Download the Paper Airplane Experiment printable to record the results of your experiment.

When setting up your experiment, it’s important to keep everything constant except for what you are testing.

Make sure you launch the planes the same way each time. We simply threw our planes, but it would also be fun to use a paper airplane launcher like this one from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.

How does changing your design or using different designs affect the results of your experiment?

What Makes This a STEAM Activity?

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. The goal is to connect these subjects together in order to encourage learning and problem-solving.

Science: learn about flight (Read a book about flight for more information.) and design an experiment.
Technology: use a timing device (stopwatch, mobile phone) to time how long the plane flies; record video of the planes flying to learn more about their flight
Engineering: design the plane and make changes to get it to fly better
Art: design the plane to be aesthetically pleasing and use different art techniques/materials
Math: use a ruler to help fold the plane; measure the size of the plane; measure the distance traveled

More Coding and STEM Activities for Kids

Find more paper science and STEM activities for kids on Science Sparks

Screen free coding activity for kids based on the communication methods of bees. Code your own dance to get others to follow the directions.
Using a Stomp rocket design, and conduct a STEM investigation into the factors that make it go higher and further. A simple STEM Space Investigation.
Help your child learn coding and the phases of the moon at the same time with this simple STEM activity for space themed learning
Polar Express themed STEM activity that creates a Key Chain at the same time
 

Code a Message and dance like a bee

STEM Rocket Experiment

Coding the Moon Phases

STEM Bell Key Chain Coding


Related Article – Pie Tin Boat Challenge for Preschoolers


Storybook Science

This post is part of the Storybook Science series. Science ideas inspired by children’s books are being shared each day of March. This week’s theme is STEAM. Be sure to check out all of the Storybook Science posts at Inspiration Laboratories.


More Storybook Science Series Posts on Rainy Day Mum:


Pin this Paper Airplane Experiment for Later

Research, design, make, decorate & fly your own paper planes in this STEAM challenge for kids. Will yours go the furthest, fly the longest, hit the target
Author
Trisha Stanley

Trisha is an educator with a passion for science literacy and mom to Aiden, Lily, and Elon.

She’s the creator of Inspiration Laboratories, a blog dedicated to encouraging learning through creativity and play.

One Comment

  1. I’m a primary student and I organised the paper plane challenge in the last 2 years and I’m doing it again this year. I love anything which includes STEAM. supercool.

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