Three Sheets to the Wind

Two styles of paper airplanes

There’s a lot you can do with a sheet of paper. You can draw a picture, write a story… or send it flying through the air, as a paper airplane. The two most common shapes are the “ballistic dart” and the “glider.” The dart flies very fast, but is more wobbly, while the glider flies more slowly but smoothly. The world record flight was more than 226 feet! Of course, you might want to make those stunt planes that fly back to you…then you get to throw them again.

Wee ones: How many edges (sides) does a regular sheet of paper have?

Little kids: If you fold a rectangle piece of paper once through the middle, what shapes can you make? Try it!  Bonus: If your boomerang-style paper airplane flies 6 seconds away from you, takes 2 seconds to turn around, and flies back for 6 seconds, how long does it fly?

Big kids: The longest a paper airplane has flown is about 28 seconds. If yours has flown 19 seconds so far, how much longer does it have to fly to match the record?  Bonus: If that record-breaking plane had flown 8 feet each second, how far would it have flown? (Hint if needed: Multiplying by 8 is the same as 2 x 2 x 2, so you can just keep doubling!)

Wee ones: 4 sides.

Little kids: Rectangles, triangles, and crooked 4-sided shapes called “trapezoids.”  Bonus: 14 seconds.

Big kids: 9 more seconds.  Bonus: 224 feet — very close to the distance record!

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