Science Club – Paper Planes

Flight and air pressure


Arrival Craft: make paper kites.
Eldest found this craft online (here), made a couple of examples at home, then showed the other children how to make them. I was very proud!
The children ran around the hall with them, and the kites flew pretty well.

Demonstration: give out strips of paper, show the children what happens when you blow over the top, then give them another strip and show them what happens when they blow in between the strips.

This happens because of the Bernouli Principle: your breath has less pressure than the still air around the paper, so the paper moves towards that area of low pressure. This is the same principle that makes aeroplanes fly.

How strong is air?
Usually it doesn’t feel very strong, but there are ways we can feel air. Use air cannon to show children how they can feel air.
Hand around an empty syringe (the ones from children’s medicine work fine) and show children how to feel air’s strength under compression by putting their thumb over the end and trying to squeeze the air with the plunger. At a certain point, the air will push back.


Individual Task:

Make paper aeroplanes, have some ready made ones for littlies to colour. Each make one traditional folded dart and one hoop plane using paper and a straw.
Hoop planes are a single straw with two paper hoops attached by sellotape.

Gather together:

See how far the paper aeroplanes fly, is there a particular design feature that seems to make our planes fly well? Work out the average distances flown by the darts and the hoop planes. Which kind of plane won?

Since we have an electric plane launcher, we all had a go with this too. We couldn’t fit the hoop planes in it, but the paper darts shot across the room.


Active Science: Draw a big shape on the ground, using masking tape, like a plane wing, get the children to walk around it in pairs, half around the bottom, half around the top. The top half will have to walk faster in order to meet their partner at the end. That’s how lift is created.


Break for drink and snack, read Dogs Don’t Fly.


Optional Extension:

  • Play with balloon helicopters.

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