Finding creative ways to teach the basic principles of science to your children can go a long way to reinforce the science lessons they learn in school. This weekend project in which you build a balsa wood glider plane powered by a rubber band is a fun way to demonstrate the basics of aerodynamics and how tension energy works.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Balsa wood
- Craft knife
- Rubber band
- Paper clip
- White glue
Buy a propeller from a craft store or online model supply website. You can make a homemade propeller out of a Popsicle stick. However, it is difficult to ensure the balance on a homemade propeller. For this craft it is advisable to purchase a pre-made one. You want to purchase a propeller which slides onto the nose of the aeroplane and has a eyelet that hangs under the body of the aeroplane.
Draw the design for the body of your aeroplane lightly onto the balsa wood with a pencil. The body should be two inches high by six inches long. The nose should be pointed or rounded. And you need to include a tail fin for stabilisation of the plane.
Draw two wings for your aeroplane lightly onto balsa wood with pencil. The main wing should be two inches by six inches (the same length and width as the plane body). The back wing should be half of that: one inch by three inches.
Cut all of the pieces of your plane out using a craft knife. Cut two horizontal lines into the body of your aeroplane. The first needs to be two inches long and should start 1/3 of the way from the nose of the plane towards the tail. The second should be one inch long and start immediately at the base of the tail fin of your plane.
Affix the wings into the slots so that they are centred. Secure in place with a dab of glue.
Attach the paper clip under the tail fin by poking one end of the paper clip through the balsa wood. Twist the eyelet closed. Slide the propeller rig onto the front of the plane and secure into place with a dab of glue.
Allow glue on the plane to fully dry. Two to four hours is adequate time.
Thread the rubber band from the eyelet under the propeller to the paper clip eyelet under the tail so that it is taut. Twist the propeller with your finger and toss the aeroplane gently and it will fly away.
Tips and warnings
- To further stabilise the plane you can glue pennies or small craft weights onto either side of the nose of the aeroplane immediately under the propeller.
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