Flight of the Champions (3/3)

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Students will be able to test their paper airplanes for the "Longest Flier" and the "Most Precise Flier".

Big Idea

Students get excited about constructing, competing, and cheering each other on. This lesson integrates all three!

Trial and Error

10 minutes

To begin our session, I allow the students to "practice" with the 3 planes they built as a result of their research in yesterday's lesson, Knowledge Is Power. I have also invited out first grade buddies to the Distance and Precision Competition today.

I prompt the students to "teach" the first graders about their planes and explain why they think it will be the "winner".

I caught this student explaining his plane's lift by comparing it to a parachute. 

Active Engagement

25 minutes

Finally, it is competition time!  The first activity was the precision test. Students launch their planes and try to thread it through a hula hoop about 10 yards away. (My sweet students wanted to allow their first grade buddies to try, too!)

If you read the first lesson, Flying Into a Problem, you will notice a huge difference in the flight of these planes. If you did not, I am including before and after clips. 



Following the precision challenge, in which students make revisions each time they come up to the launch line, we go outside for the distance competition. 

Many students have a different plane for this challenge. The wings are wider and the nose is folded into a blunted point, rather than a sharp point. This increases lift, so the plane glides longer. 


5 minutes

In order to close the lesson, I ask students to choose a partner with a completely different plane design than their own. Then, I encourage them to pick places on the playground to test them and help revise the models. 

In doing this, the students have to draw on their knowledge to critique and revise a peer's design. This type of review is a sort of performance task, as the children are called to use a design that is already complete and make revisions to improve it.