How to Make Flying Toys

Written by kay tang
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How to Make Flying Toys
The wings of a model aeroplane allow the toy to lift by reacting against the flow of air. (rc aeroplane, image by Greg Pickens from

Flying toys are built according to principles of aerodynamics, or the study of forces on objects that move through air. These forces depend on air density, which is determined by atmospheric pressure and temperature. Because air flows from pockets of high pressure towards areas of low pressure, the typical structure of the toy's wings is asymmetric. While the air above the wing rushes past, the air below the wing creates resistance or slows the toy down. The toy then lifts and glides through space. A flying toy is simple to make as long as it observes the laws of aerodynamics.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 3-by-5-inch index cards
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Plastic straws with no bends

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  1. 1

    Use scissors to cut an index card lengthwise into three strips of equal size. Each strip should be 5 inches long and 1 inch wide.

  2. 2

    Make a hoop out of one strip. Tape the ends together.

  3. 3

    Tape the ends of the other two strips together so that they form one long strip. Allow the ends to overlap a little before you tape, so the strip does not bend. Make a larger hoop out of this long strip. Tape the ends together.

  4. 4

    Stick the tip of a straw onto the middle of a piece of tape.

  5. 5

    Place the large hoop on top of the tip of the straw. Take the two sides of the tape on either side of the straw and press them up against the sides of the hoop.

  6. 6

    Stick the other end of the straw onto the middle of a strip of tape.

  7. 7

    Position the small hoop on the opposite end of the straw. Make sure it aligns with the large hoop. Press the small hoop against the straw and tape up the sides as you did with the large hoop.

  8. 8

    Take hold of the toy at the centre of the straw. Point the toy into the air with the small hoop in the front. Throw it like a javelin.

Tips and warnings

  • Insert a paper clip at the base of the small hoop. See how it affects the flight of the toy.

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