At first glance, this project is simple, but, upon closer inspection, it’s rather deceptive as there are a lot of variables for students to manipulate and experiment with.
Using only some basic supplies, students will work in teams to produce a paper helicopter, based on an initial basic design, that will stay aloft the longest. Older students can do this project solo, but to enhance the collaborative element, students are encouraged to work in a team, with each student designing his own helicopter.
Aside from using the provded materials, students will need a way to safely release their helicopters. Students generally want to stand on chairs, tables, etc to obtain a high drop height, so set the test-height for something that all students can reach without standing on anything, generally between 3-5 feet depending on the height of your students. Students can then take turns dropping their helicopters while other students time the drop. Timed trials can be recorded in a simple table for analysis.
Once students have experimented with some basic designs, they can design their own. Teams can modify the dimensions of the helicopter as well as the weight of the paperclip(s) and paper
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Lane specializes in STEM education, curriculum design and professional development and makes teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.