How to Make Your Own Helicopter

September 6, 2019

A helicopter is a big, heavy machine that needs lots of room to take off and land. But this guy really wanted a helicopter. So he built one out of lots of tiny toy helicopters called drones. Drones are remote-controlled spinny objects that carry things, not people. By strapping 54 of them to a frame, he made his own chopper that picks him right up off the ground! As we see and hear in the video, the drones together sound like a swarm of bees. They can fly on battery for 10 minutes — long enough take you to a lot of crazy places.

Wee ones: The blades on top of a helicopter spin. Spin yourself to the right. Now spin to the left!

Little kids: If the motor rotor uses drones, batteries, a frame, a chair, and an umbrella, how many types of parts is that?  Bonus: How many of the 54 drones would he have to take away to have one for each of America’s 50 states?

Big kids: If the guy paid \$100 for each of the 54 drones, does that cost more or less than a \$500,000 helicopter?  Bonus: In most sets of drones, half the propellers turn one way while the rest spin the other way. Of the 54 drones here, how many should spin clockwise?

Wee ones: Try spinning in each direction — without getting dizzy!

Little kids: 5 types of parts.  Bonus: 4 drones.

Big kids: Much less: just \$5,400.  Bonus: 27 drones.

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.