While many kids would like to make paper airplanes out of their homework, making paper planes is a class assignment that they can enjoy, especially when a group of engineers help them see which design can fly the farthest.

Making Paper Planes is a Class AssignmentEngineers employed at John Deere Ottumwa Works came to Liberty Elementary School as guest teachers to help students learn more about flight. Amber Pargmann was the guest teacher for second graders.  She is on the governor’s STEM council, and told the children they would do some measuring and make changes on their paper planes.  Her first question to them was “What makes an airplane fly?”

A student answered.  “The wings,” he said.

She told him he was right, but what made the wings go up?

“Air goes under the wings,” the child said. She confirmed he was right again, and told the children that this produces “lift.”  They learned about “drag” as well. Pargmann showed them that toy cars roll on a carpet, but on a bare floor they go farther and faster.

The children made their airplanes from construction paper, folding the paper and some used scissors.  They tried different solutions to make the plane fly well.

“Don’t feel bad,” Pargmann said. “The Wright Brothers tried 11 different designs before their plane would fly.”

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