Paper Airplane Science Fair Project

We've all played with paper airplanes. But a paper airplane science fair project? Come on. Get serious.

Yep! We're serious. And you'll find this is one of our better projects too. Just follow the instructions below, and you'll have yourself a great project and a good time to boot! So...

Let's get started...

Time - Give yourself about one week to do this one.

Stuff List

You'll need...

1. Tough lightweight paper for making airplanes (copy paper works wonderfully)
2. Paper airplane instruction book (recommended but not required.)
[We recommend Championship Paper Airplanes by Paul Jackson, Reisterstown, MD Flying Frog 1999]

3. Conversion table and calculator
4. Tape measure
5. Pencil or pen
6. Paper
7. Graph paper
8. Camera
9. Cardboard for display (order at Amazon here)
10. Glue
11. Paper
12. Computer (optional)

So let's get into your paper
airplane science fair project!


Even with a paper airplane science fair project (which sounds quite simple) we need to become scientists. And a good scientist always asks questions. So...

...let's ask some questions about paper airplanes. These questions are only for reference so we can get our feel for the project. We'll ask our really important question a little bit later. Let's think about our paper airplane science fair project for a little bit and ask ourselves...

What is a paper airplane?
What makes it fly?
Are there different kinds of airplanes?

Thoroughly research these and any other questions you can think. Find all you can about different kinds airplanes. Ask an adult about it, or get on the internet. You might even find some good books on paper airplanes at the library. If you really wanted to get serious, you could plan a "field trip" to the airport to find out how real airplanes work.

Put a lot of effort into this part. It'll make your life simpler later. After you've done your research, ask the important question. This is also called your hypothesis...

Does the number of folds affect the distance a paper airplane will fly?

This is a good question because we can try it out in a large, empty room in our house or outside. But don't try it yet. We need to answer our important question first!

Let's do that now.

What do you think will happen?

Does the number of folds affect the distance a paper airplane will fly?

Write down your guess on a piece of paper. Don't change it until you see what your paper airplane science fair project does first. Remember...

...we call this guess our hypothesis. It's the most important part of our paper airplane science fair project!

Now it's time to get your stuff from the list above. Let's move to the next step.


Now comes the fun part...

...let's experiment!

First, we'll need to make five different patterns of planes for this paper airplane science fair project. You'll probably want to make three airplanes from each pattern. But don't cheat! You're not allowed to add weight or anything else to it to make it fly better. That will ruin the experiment!

What we're trying to discover is how the folds affect the way the plane flies. So don't try any other modifications other than folding it a different number of times and in different ways. Trust us...

You won't need extra weight for these planes to fly. (Don't worry. We've already tried it!!! :) )

Here are some great examples of airplanes...

Fly, fly, fly!!!

Now comes the best part of all...

It's time to fly them!

The best place to do this is in an empty room, long, wide hallway or (even better) the gym at your school. The bigger, the better. The fewer obstacles that get in your way, the less likely something will end the loooonnnnnggggg flight of your best plane...

Fly, fly, fly!!!

Record the distance each one goes. If you live in a place that uses standard English measures (inches, feet, yards, etc.) you may want to convert your distances to metric measures (centimeters, meters, etc.) It makes it look more "scientific."

Be careful to write all your information down neatly so that you can read it. You'll use this information later. But it won't do you any good if you don't know which plane did what or can't read your own handwriting.



...let's make the chart!

Label the first column "Number of Folds." Next, label the second column "Throw One," the second "Throw Two" and so on. Once again, make sure it's all neat. The judges will look for that.

In this case, you may want to make a bar graph. It looks more "professional." And graphs are normally easier to read.

Label across the bottom the number of folds of each plane. Along the side, write "1", "2", "3" and so on all the way up to twenty (20) or twenty-five (25.) Add color to distinguish between each type of paper airplane. Here are some examples...

For more info about making charts and graphs click here.

It's time to tell what you've noticed. Write a report about what you saw.

You should include...

1. What you guessed about the paper airplanes.
2. What you did in your paper airplane science fair project.
3. Which number of folds did the best.
4. If your guess was correct about the number of folds.

Be careful to obey all the school rules for your science fair report. One or two paragraphs for each grade level will do if you weren't given how long it should be. Be detailed as well. But make it neat.


Now you get to make the display!

Carefully put three pieces of cardboard together so it looks like this...


If you want more information about how to put together and arrange displays for your paper airplane science fair project click here.

You can buy displays at many retail stores as well. However you do it, make sure you follow science fair rules!

Now, on a piece of paper neatly write your important question and your guess. If you would like, type it. You might get style points!

Now, just like you did your important question, write (or type) your supply list on a separate piece of paper.

Paste your guess, supply list and report onto your display board along with any pictures you might have taken. Make sure you label each so the judges know what is what. Making sure everything looks good is important!

If you want to get some ideas for your display we have some examples for you. Just click here for examples of displays and other helpful hints to make your project shine!

Try playing with some of the display ideas you see. You don't have to use the exact ones we use. Make them fun! Be creative!

And don't forget to name your project at the top of the display board. It's best to use your important question as the title. You may want to purchase stencils to make cutouts of letters. Or you may purchase already made letters at many retail stores.

We came up with this paper airplane science fair project so you could have fun and learn at the same time. So...

Whatever you do, have fun!

Finished with your paper airplane science fair project?
Click here to see more great projects!

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