Skip to main content

Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries. Let’s Talk Science offers a number of fun activities to get youth engaged in STEM.

Make and launch your own simple glider!

What You Need

· Card stock

· Paper clip

· Tape

· Elastic band

· Drinking straw

What to Do

1. Fold back the top three centimetres of the straw. Put the elastic band into the fold.

2. Fold the straw over the elastic band. Wrap the end of the straw with tape. This creates the launcher for the glider.

3. Cut an equilateral triangle out of card stock. (An equilateral triangle has three equal sides) Make the biggest equilateral triangle you can from cardstock. This will be the main body and wings of the glider.

4. Tape the paper clip to one of the of the triangle. This will be the front of the glider.

5. Tape the wings and body to the top of the launcher. The launcher should extend slightly past the front of the glider.

6. Fold each of the wing tips up slightly.

7. You are now ready to test the glider! Hook the elastic band around the tip of one of your thumbs. With your other hand, pull the back end of the straw towards you. Let go of the straw and the glider should fly forward off your thumb.

Step-by-step instructionsHandout

What’s happening?

When you launch your glider, you are pushing it through the air. For aircraft, this pushing is called thrust. Thrust is one type of force. Force is needed to make anything move by either pushing or pulling.

While your glider is flying, it rubs against the air. This force slows it down. This force is called drag.

Why does it matter?

There are four forces that act on any aircraft when it is flying. Thrust and drag are two of the forces. Gravity is the third force. Gravity pulls an aircraft towards the Earth. The fourth force

is lift. This is what lets airplanes fly.

The same four forces that act on your glider act on the biggest airliners, jets and helicopters.

Investigate further

· Pull the glider back further towards your elbow. How does it change how far the glider goes?

· Try adding a rudder to the glider. You can do this using a small triangle cut from leftover card stock. Tape the triangle vertically to the centre back of the glider. Test again. What changes do you see?

· How else can you make your glider go even further?

Discover more free, English and French, Let’s Talk Science hands-on STEM activities, resources and events online.