Home-Made Helicopter

I’ve been surprised to find that some children manage to make it into their teens without ever learning how to make a paper airplane, which seems to me a failing on the part of everyone involved in their education. Even fewer children will know how to make one of these – a paper helicopter. Unlike a paper airplane, if made correctly, these “fly” in a fairly reliable, consistent way, doing the same thing every time you use one. This makes them ideal for doing a bit of scientific investigation, seeing what factors affect how quickly or slowly they fall.

Extras: Obviously, real helicopters don’t work quite like a paper one because they have engines… but if the engine fails, a real helicopter doesn’t just fall out of the sky, because, like the paper helicopter, its blades can “autorotate” and help land the helicopter safely. Here’s great video showing why, contrary to what famous scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson has said, a helicopter which loses its engine does NOT “turn into a brick”:

After you’ve tried your own experiments, watch this great video where “2BrokeScientists” investigate how a paper helicopter works using some impressively sophisticated science

Finally, here’s a great blog post by Dr Majid Hassan Khan on “falling paper strips, tossed coins, to settling snowflakes” which also includes an idea for a simple experiment to investigate “freely falling paper”.

MORE GOOD STUFF: Click here for more activities. I’ll be publishing more videos of activities from my book over the coming weeks. Check back here, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my YouTube channel to make sure you don’t miss them.

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