How to Make Gliders for School

Written by jason jensen | 13/05/2017
How to Make Gliders for School
NASA Space Shuttle diagram (space shuttle line image by patrimonio designs from

Making a styrofoam glider for a school project is great way to teach children about aerodynamics. Kids enjoy this easy and inexpensive project because they know they are making a toy that they will get to keep and can play with. NASA has a free glider template/diagram called the "McEagle Glider" on their website. You can download and print the template to use as a tracing guide for making the pieces of the glider.

Download the glider template from NASA's website (see Resources).

Print the glider template and cut out the five pieces.

Lay the pieces over the foam tray and trace around them with a pen or pencil. Use a craft knife to cut the pieces out of the tray.

Mark the forward direction on each piece with a pencil.

Glue the "Fuselage-Front" and "Fuselage-Rear" pieces together.

Glue the fin and stabiliser to the fuselage. The fin is mounted on the back end of the rear fusilage. The stabiliser is mounted on the centre of the front fusilage.

Cut the piece for the wings in two halves. Sand the foam down to a width of 1 cm along the cut line of the wings.

Glue the wings to the fuselage. Raise the wing tips 1 inch higher than the middle. This will create a dihedral angle. You will need to use a book or stack of papers to prop the wings up while the glue dries.

Tape a dime to either side of the fuselage just before the wings' leading edge. Toss the glider through the air and observe its flight. If it elevates too steeply, move the dime further back along the fuselage. If the glider dips too steeply, move the dime forward along the fuselage. Once the glider is balanced, permanently attach the dimes to their position with a drop of glue.

Things you need

  • Styrofoam tray
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Glue
  • Stack of books or newspapers
  • Dime

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