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					         Does the Number of Folds Affect the Distance of the Paper Airplane?

Research: How do airplanes fly?

Airplanes fly because of a force called a lift which moves the airplane upwards. The air moving
around the wings, as well as the shape of the wings helps with the lift. The lift is caused by the
forward motion of the airplane in the air, and this motion is called thrust. In reality, this motion
is created by either the thrust of the engines or propellers. It does not matter which as long as air
continues to go over the wings. In our experiment, the motion is caused by the thrower's force of

Besides lift and thrust, there are two other forces that act on the airplane: weight and drag.
Weight is a force created by gravity, which pulls the airplane back to the ground. Airplanes are
built so that their weight is spread around which keeps the plane balanced. Drag is the force
created by the resistance of the air to the forward motion of the airplane, like a strong wind
pushing against the airplane.

"When the thrust produced by the engine(s) is greater than the force of drag, the airplane moves
forward. When the forward motion is enough to produce a force of lift that is greater than the
weight, the airplane moves upward.

Does the Number of Folds Affect the Distance of the Paper Airplane?                      Logbook 1

Does the number of folds affect the distance of the paper airplane?


As the number of folds increase we believe the distance the paper airplanes travels will also


       15 sheets of 8.5” x 11” copy paper
       Masking tape
       Meter stick
       Pen
       Calculator


We did three trials with three different types of planes with different numbers of folds.

   1. Fold three airplanes of plane #1
   2. Fold three airplanes of plane#2
   3. Fold three airplanes of plane #3
   4. At the starting line, throw the airplanes one at a time for each type of plane and measure
      the distance it flew. Try to maintain the same amount of force used to throw each plane.
   5. All the nine planes have been thrown and we took the average distance (m) for each type
      of plane.

EX. For plane #1

Sum of all three distance (m)


Independent Variable: The numbers of fold

Dependent Variable: The distance the plane travels

Control Variable: The size and type of paper.

Does the Number of Folds Affect the Distance of the Paper Airplane?                     Logbook 2

        Trial                                         Plane 1                       Plane 2                      Plane 3
                                                     (4 Folds)                     (7 Folds)                    (9 Folds)
            1                                          5.50m                         1.33m                        2.77m

            2                                          5.53m                         2.50m                       2.97m

            3                                          3.95m                         2.38m                       3.40m

      Average                                          4.99m                         2.07m                       3.05m

                                                           Overall Averages
                  Distance Travelled (m)

                                           2                                                           Trials
                                               Plane 1 (4 folds) Plane 2 (7 folds) Plane 3 (9 folds)
                                                            Design of Paper Airplane


It was Plane #1 (4 folds; 4.99m) that travelled the most distance. Plane #3 (9 folds; 3.05m) came
in second, with Plane #2 (7 folds; 2.07m) being the last. Based on these results, one cannot
assume that the number of folds a paper plane has is directly proportional to the distance it


Our Hypothesis on the affect of folds on the distance flown has been rejected. There appears to
be no relationship between an increasing number of folds and an increase in the distance flown.

Does the Number of Folds Affect the Distance of the Paper Airplane?                                                 Logbook 3
Sources of error:
- Even though we had 3 of each type of plane, there were slight variances in folding which could
affect flight
- Camilla's throwing force may have differed from each throw.
- If the meter stick was at a slight angle while measuring that will affect the distance
- The thrower's position changed slightly during each throw

Ways to improve:
- Increase the number of plains thrown
- Ideally, a mechanical device could be designed to throw the airplanes at the same force
- Put a grid with measurements on the floor to avoid eye balling it.
- Change location to a larger open room (not the hallway as we used) to avoid collisions with the


Monday, December 5, 2011 – Planned when to meet up, and how to start our project.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 – Tested the planes, each kind of plane had three trials.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 – Analyzed and discussed the results of our experiments. We
came up with a conclusion.

Friday, December 8, 2011 – Started the write up and backboard.

Monday, December 12, 2011 – Worked on write up and backboard.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - Worked on write up and backboard.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - Worked on write up and backboard.


      http://www.ct.gov/kids/cwp/view.asp?a=2731&q=330926
      http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/ames-how-do-planes-fly-text.html

Does the Number of Folds Affect the Distance of the Paper Airplane?                   Logbook 4

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