Paper Airplane Challenge


  1. Do you know who invented airplanes? The Wright Brothers, from Ohio! Read info about them here: The Wright Brothers

2. Watch this video from Learn with Diva about Airplanes Fly:

3. Read this Scholastic Article about How Paper Airplanes Fly


What makes a paper airplane fly? Air — the stuff that’s all around you. Hold your hand in front of your body with your palm facing sideways so that your thumb is on top and your pinkie is facing the floor. Swing your hand back and forth. Do you feel the air? Now turn your palm so it is parallel to the ground and swing it back and forth again, like you’re slicing it through the air. You can still feel the air, but your hand is able to move through it more smoothly than when your hand was turned up at a right angle. How easily an airplane moves through the air, or its aerodynamics, is the first consideration in making an airplane fly for a long distance.

Drag and Gravity

Planes that push a lot of air, like your hand did when it was facing the side, are said to have a lot of “drag,” or resistance, to moving through the air. If you want your plane to fly as far as possible, you want a plane with as little drag as possible. A second force that planes need to overcome is “gravity.” You need to keep your plane’s weight to a minimum to help fight against gravity’s pull to the ground.

Thrust and Lift

“Thrust” and “lift” are two other forces that help your plane make a long flight. Thrust is the forward movement of the plane. The initial thrust comes from the muscles of the “pilot” as the paper airplane is launched. After this, paper airplanes are really gliders, converting altitude to forward motion. Lift comes when the air below the airplane wing is pushing up harder than the air above it is pushing down. It is this difference in pressure that enables the plane to fly. Pressure can be reduced on a wing’s surface by making the air move over it more quickly. The wings of a plane are curved so that the air moves more quickly over the top of the wing, resulting in an upward push, or lift, on the wing.

The Four Forces in Balance

A long flight occurs when these four forces — drag, gravity, thrust, and lift — are balanced. Some planes (like darts) are meant to be thrown with a lot of force. Because darts don’t have a lot of drag and lift, they depend on extra thrust to overcome gravity. Long distance fliers are often built with this same design. Planes that are built to spend a long time in the air usually have a lot of lift but little thrust. These planes fly a slow and gentle flight.

4.Watch this short video on how to make a super basic paper airplane:


Waste A Few Minutes On This Site Dedicated Solely To Paper Plane Designs –  2oceansvibe News | South African and international news

2. To create your first airplane you can only use the materials below:

  • Printer or notebook paper

3. Besides the Basic airplane, choose two additional paper airplanes that you think you can build. draw a picture of all three.



  1. Using only printer or notebook paper build the BASIC airplane
  2. Build at least 2 additional planes from the FoldNFly site. Use a pen or pencil to write the name of your planes on the wings so you don’t mix them up.
  3. Time to test out your planes with a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT
    • HYPOTHESIS: before you start, examine all three of your planes and write your answers the questions below on a sheet of paper, or type them up in a new document.
      1. Which Plane do you think will fly the farthest? Why do you think?
      2. How far do you think the planes will go in feet?
    • TEST: Go outside, or in a large room or hallway where you will have room to toss your airplanes. Make sure you wont hit anyone or anything!
    • Throw each airplane from the same spot. Try to throw them the same way each time!
    • RECORD: Write down the answers to these questions:
      1. Which airplane went there farthest? Was your guess correct?
      2. How far did each airplane go? (if you don’t have a measuring tape, measure in your feet!)
    • REPEAT! Go back to the same place you started and throw each plane one more time to repeat your experiment
      1. Did you get the same results (did the same plane go the farthest?)
    • IMPROVE: Create a 4th plane- this can either be a design from the FoldNFly site, or you can try to create one of your own
    • REPEAT: Test all 4 of your airplanes
      1. Which airplane when the farthest?
      2. Are the planes flying in similar patterns?


  1. Go back to the basic airplane design. You should have one airplane made of printer or notebook paper. For this test, you need to create another basic airplane made of another material. Choose a material from the list below:
    • newspaper
    • Cardstock (heavy paper like a post card)
    • Cereal Box (use scissors to cut it the same size as printer paper)
    • Wrapping paper (use scissors to cut it the same size as printer paper)
    • Other paper material you can find in your house that is different from the paper you used to make your original plane)
  2. Now that you have TWO planes of the same design made from different materials, we are going to TEST again
      1. Which material plane do you think will go the farthest?
      2. Why do you think that material is better for paper airplanes?
    • TEST: Go to the same place you threw the airplanes for the same test and throw both your airplanes.
    • RECORD:
      1. Which plane went the farthest? Were you correct?
      2. How far did each plane go?


Take pictures of all of your airplanes, and the answers to your experiment questions (if you typed them up, it’s okay you can send them in an email),

Send them to Ms. Wallace ( and your teacher in an email AND copy and paste the questions below and answer them in the email:

  1. What is your Name, Grade, School and Teacher?
  2. List 3 things you learned about the Wright Brothers.
  3. Explain how airplanes are able to fly even though they are very heavy:
  4. Which 3 airplane designs did you make?
  5. Which airplane did you think would go the farthest for your Hypothesis for test one? Were you correct? How far did each of your airplanes go?
  6. When you repeated your test, were the results the same? Explain
  7. For test two, what other material did you use to create a second plane? What was your hypothesis for which would go farther? Were you correct How far did they go?
  8. If you were to build airplanes again, how could you improve your designs?
  9. What do you want to build next?