Teacher Talk: 8th Graders Applied the Scientific Method in Paper Airplane Aerodynamics Science Experiment

September 23, 2014

I have seen several science experiments which allow for students to test different variables of paper airplane designs. Because inertia and momentum are review concepts for the 8th grade, I wanted to focus on changing the mass which effects both inertia and momentum. The point was to have the students go through the steps of the scientific method, while reviewing some old concepts.

To kick off the experiment I identified the problem to the class. I explained that I was unhappy none of their paper airplanes reached the recycling bin in the classroom. We then did some research about momentum and inertia, and learned that more mass equals more inertia and momentum.

The class’ hypothesis was that by adding paper clips and increasing the drag, the plane would go farther. Students performed several trials and averaged the plane’s distance launched with 1, 2 and 0 paperclips and concluded with a discussion about which test worked best. It was a fun experiment that the class enjoyed and they now have a better understanding about the science of flying!

Mr. Mark Pendergrass
Middle School Science Teacher