So your Going to Do a Science Project!
Paper airplanes do have potential to make good science fair projects. But there is more to it then just making and tossing a few planes. Science fair judges are looking for some good data collection and analysis. Starting right off with the question of what are we trying to determine. Are we comparing types of paper, or changing a fold to change the planes center of gravity, or maybe changing folds to increase the ratio of the wing span to chord length.
Once the main topic is decided then it becomes a matter of figuring out how to keep the experiments consistent. For folded paper airplanes made from 20#, 24#, or 28#; it is going to require purchasing (about $12-$15) or building an electric launcher. (I am hoping to add some plans for a design to build your own soon that uses 2 $1.00 hand fans from the Dollar Tree for motors). For heavier stock, glued style, planes then rubber band launchers can be used but must be controlled to give consistent amount of pull.
A major advantage in judging will go to the ones who are able to keep everything neat and orderly. I have included some suggestions for aids to help with neatness and organization:
- A Measuring Aid -- This aid will allow you to make quick markups if your project involves changing bend locations or angles.
- A Center of Gravity Aid -- A simple balance to help locate where the planes center of gravity is located.
- An Airplane Display Stand -- Be creative to find something similar to hold and display a few of your test samples. Not only does it look better it discourages someone from walking off with your experiments!
Once the project is going neat and orderly presentation is key. I have listed a whole set of free software packages here that can make a lot of difference in presentation. These softwares are not only free but will run from a flash drive without requiring any installation. The advantage is that not only can you carry your data with you but all the software needed to work on it. It will work on any windows computer at home, school, or library.