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With the Paper Airplanes Flinn STEM Design Challenge™, watch student engagement “take off” in this exciting STEM design challenge! Each student builds a simple paper airplane to test the effects of several modifications then is challenged to design long-distance and load-carrying designs.

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Watch student engagement “take off” in this exciting design challenge! Each student builds a simple paper airplane to test the effects of several modifications. After learning the basics of paper airplane design, teams are asked to design a new toy paper airplane for FlinnToy. Can they design a long-distance, load-carrying flyer? While staying within a budget, teams decide which materials to use and the best overall design to meet the criteria. As weights are added and materials change, students will have to make design alterations to ensure a long and stable flight. Whose design will FlinnToy choose? Student enthusiasm will soar high as the principles of flight are investigated in this fun activity.

Complete for 30 students working in pairs. Tape measures are required and available separately.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Planning and carrying out investigations
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
MS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
HS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

Crosscutting Concepts

Structure and function
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Cause and effect
Patterns

Performance Expectations

MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.