Lesson 6 on Aeronautical Engineering: Paper Airplane Design (November 16 and 26)

Important:  Read all instructions before proceeding.

Objectives: (1) To reinforce information students are learning about the basic concepts of aviation, which will be illustrated through the design of a paper airplane in this lesson; and (2) To demonstrate that engineering is a combination of science with learning from trial and error.

  • You are going to answer a series of online questions that appear beneath this blue box.
  • All answers are REQUIRED.   Please provide complete answers to all parts of each questions.  Your team will be requested to resubmit deficient responses. See Mr. Truex if you have any questions.
  • Submit one online answer per team.  If you made a mistake and need to re-submit, please see Mr. Truex, so he can re-set  your team response.
  • When you are finished, hit the SUBMIT button after the last question.  The screen will refresh.  Any missing responses will be high-lighted.  You need to fill in those answers and then submit again. If your submission is accepted, all of the questions and answers will appear on the screen.  There will be a message before question #1 thanking you for your submission.  Don’t exit until you see this message, or your response will not register, and you will not get credit for your work.
  • It is strongly recommended that you save a copy of the answers you type in below.  Either hand write a copy, or copy and paste to a file or email that you send to your team members.
  • The preliminary rules for the Paper Airplane competition are now posted online.


Welcome to your Paper Airplane Design

Type in the captcha code to confirm you are human
1. What are the names of your team members?  Please list ALL team members, even those who are absent today.
2. Explain the following term as it relates to aviation and flightTHRUST.
3. Explain the following term as it relates to aviation and flight: DRAG.
4. Explain the following term as it relates to aviation and flight: WEIGHT.
5. Explain the following term as it relates to aviation and flight: LIFT.
6. Do you want any drag in your paper airplane design; or will you try to minimize/eliminate drag?  Also indicate (a) Why? and (b) How?
7. How will the way you fold your paper airplane affect drag?  Are you concerned about loose edges or folds?  Why or why not?
8. The only THRUST will be at the initial throw. Do you want to maximize this thrust; or only to a point?  Why?
9. How hard do you want to throw your paper airplane?
10. Does the style or manner of the throw matter?  If so, how?
11. The WEIGHT of all competing airplanes will be the same—that is, the weight of one sheet of paper. Does the distribution of weight matter?  If so, how?
12. Is weight a consideration in any other way?
13. Do you want the MAXIMUM LIFT possible? Why or why not?
14. How much lift to you want? (a little; a lot; a medium amount, etc.) Indicate why?
15. How important is STABILITY to your design? Why?
16. How do you intend make sure your paper airplane flies in a relatively straight path?
17. Do you intend to fold you airplane with the center running the long (portrait) or short (landscape) dimension of the paper? Why?
18. The rules of the contest technically prohibit using a crumpled paper “ball” as an airplane design.  But, even if allowed, why would such a design be sub-optimal?
19. How will your designs be different if you are trying to obtain maximum DISTANCE vs. maximum TIME IN THE AIR (hang time)
20. If you could add a ½ inch x 2 inch piece of tape (cut into pieces if desired), how/where would you add it to your design?
21. If you could add a paper clip, how/where would you add it to your design?
22. How will you incorporate other common airplane parts into your design (example, AILERONS, FLAPS, WINGLETS, etc.)  See graphic at https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/airplane.html
23. What other design features will you incorporate in your design?