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How to Design a Paper Airplane Engineering Challenge

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One of my kids’ favorite things are paper airplanes. Any time my kids get a piece of loose paper, they try to turn it into airplane. For this engineering project, we decided to take their love of making paper airplanes and make it educational.

The paper airplane engineering challenge is a fun way to test kids’ design skills and makes a wonderful introduction to engineering activities for kids.

Follow along with our activity to learn how we set up our engineering challenge using paper planes and how you can set up your own airplane engineering challenge!

How to make your own paper airplane engineering challenge! Step-by-step instructions for making a paper airplane design contest for kids.

Easy Paper Airplane Engineering Challenge

Follow along with these directions to learn how to set up your own paper plane engineering challenge with kids at home or in the classroom!

What You Need for the Paper Airplane Engineering Challenge

elementary stem challenge cards

Step 1: Choose a Plane Design

Engineering activities for kids can be boring, but not when your project is a paper airplane engineering challenge!

Monkey looked at the plane designs in the book and decided which she wanted to attempt to make. In our book, some of the planes were a little challenging for her (8 years old), so she did need a bit of help making some designs.

Step 2: Choose a Paper for Your Plane

Decide which planes you want to make out of which paper. We used computer paper for some and construction paper for others.

Step 3: Construct the Paper Airplanes

We followed the directions in our book to create the plane designs. You can also make your own designs and see what happens.

Step 4: Start the Paper Airplane Engineering Challenge

This was our favorite part. We spent an hour or more throwing the planes across the house.

Monkey loved the planes that looped. I liked the planes that could glide for long distances.

We didn’t judge our planes, just observed their differences. Light, pointed planes flew far and straight, while shorter, wider planes with folds in the wings would make loops or crazy turns.

However, if you want to judge the planes in more of a paper airplane engineering challenge, see which material produces the best planes, which design can go farthest, which design can do the most tricks, and anything else you can think of! Have fun with it!

If you try our paper airplane engineering activity, share your results with us on the STEAMsational Facebook page! We would love to see your projects in action.

elementary stem challenge cards

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Save this idea for later so you don't forget to use it!