Hand-launched gliders---made from styrofoam or balsa wood---float through the air with a simple flick of the wrist. Basic gliders use a template and make a good project to complete with the kids. The small-scale aeroplanes don't take long to build. Before long, you'll have the glider floating along on a flight that you made possible.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Internet access
- Styrofoam tray
- Box cutter
- Sheet of balsa wood
- Craft knife
Visit NASA's "Space Science Group" website and print their "Build a Foam Glider" template.
Use scissors to cut out the template shapes. Tape the cut-out shapes onto the top of the styrofoam tray.
Use a box cutter to trace along the outside of the taped-down images to cut the styrofoam into that specific shape. You should have three cut-out pieces of styrofoam; one for the body, one for the wings and one for the tail. Don't remove the paper templates yet.
Using the paper templates as guides, use the box cutter to make slits in the body of the aircraft to slide the wings and tail through. Then remove the paper.
Use sandpaper to smooth out any rough patches on your styrofoam pieces. Slide the wings and the tail through the slits you created.
Throw your glider in the air for a test flight. If it doesn't fly properly, add a little bit of weight to it by attaching a paper clip to the nose of the plane.
Visit the Society of Women Engineers website to download and print their free glider patterns. They have two to choose from -- a sweptback-wing glider or a straight-wing glider.
Use scissors to cut out your pattern. Tape the template pieces on top of the sheet of balsa wood.
Trace around the pattern pieces with a craft knife to cut them out, but don't remove the paper from the wood. Use sandpaper to soften any rough edges.
Using the paper templates as guides, use the craft knife to make slits in the body of the aircraft to slide the wings and tail through. Then remove the paper.
Slide the wings and tail pieces through the slots, making sure you centre them. Add a small dot of glue to hold them in place. Wait for the glue to dry.
Through your glider in the air for a test run. If it doesn't fly properly, attach a paper clip to the nose of the plane to add weight.
Balsa Wood Glider
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