Activity Name: Designing a Paper Airplane

Activity Name: Designing a Paper Airplane
Author: Adapted by Yoo Jin Chung and Kate Fraser
Adapted from: Introduction to Technology, Glencoe / McGraw-Hill by
Alan J. Pierce, Dennis Karwatka, 2005.
Target Subject: Technology/engineering
Purpose: To create a paper airplane and modify it to increase flight
time and distance.
Background Information: Folded paper gliders are believed to have
originated from Ancient China. However, the through Japanese
people who paper-folding craft is now widely known as origami, a
Japanese term. Before the invention of modern airplane, pioneers of
aircraft design studied and made paper gliders.
Preparation: Learn how to fold a basic paper plane according to the
description below. Students may benefit from hands on instruction in
paper folding techniques, and terms such as horizontal and vertical,
as well as a chance to examine previously folded steps in the
Materials: Letter size paper, measuring tape, paper clip, tape, clay
1. Identify the longer side of the paper. Place the sheet of paper
so that the longer side of the paper is perpendicular to the
edge of the table and the shorter side of the paper is horizontal
to the edge of the table.
2. Next, fold the paper exactly in half the long way (the right and
left edges will line up with each other.
3. Re-open the paper so there is a vertical crease that divides the
paper into half.
4. Identify the top shorter side of the paper. Find the two corners
of the shorter side of the paper. Fold each corner in towards
the center, to the point where the inside edge of the paper meets
the crease identified in step 3.
5. The paper now looks like a house, with pointed roof and a
rectangular bottom. Starting at the tip of the “roof”, bring each
fold to meet at the crease in the center.
6. Now the paper looks like a triangle with a long, pointy tip and
two flaps on two sides.
7. Starting at the bottom corners of the triangle, fold the sides
inward until the sides meet the center crease.
8. Your paper now looks like a very thin slice of pizza, with a
crack in the center. Flip the paper over, so that the paper is
smooth without any inward folds.
9. Identify the center crease and the two long sides. Fold the
paper in half inward.
10. Your plane now has a flat glider-like wing and a perpendicular
triangular base below the wings. Hold the base lightly, with the
pointy tip of the plane facing away from you, and fly the plane.
11. Measure how far the plane went with the measuring tape.
Record the data
12. Improve the plane so that it flies farther? Try taping certain
parts of the plane or folding in a different way. Describe each
design in your data and record the various distances
13. Now, try attaching a paper clip at the base of the plane, near
the pointy tip. Does it help the plane fly better? What if you put
clay there? Why do you think this changes how far it flies?
Pierce, Alan J. and Dennis Karwatka. Introduction to Technology,
Third Edition, The McGraw Hill Companies, 2005, pages 46 and 47.