Lesson Plan #:AELP-SPS0005
Submitted by: Steve McCombs
School or Affiliation: Ft. Greely School, Delta Junction, AK
Endorsed by: These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center’s Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops. Date: May 1994
Grade Level(s): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
- Science/Process Skills
Overview: Most elementary students do not have a good grasp of the scientific method or how to set-up an experiment, collect data, test a hypothesis, or organize the information after an experiment. Children can do real science by asking simple ‘what it questions’ that can be tested. for example my son, David, wondered what type of popcorn popped best. We eat a lot of popcorn and friends often give us special types of seeds to try. Using one hundred seeds of six types of popcorn and a hot air popper he tested the seeds and graphed the results. The amount popped varied from 65% to 97% for the six types tested. The experiment was written up and used in his school science fair. The best part of the experiment was its simple uniqueness. It tested an idea and was not a copy from a book of experiments already tried.
The purpose of this activity is for students to gather some baseline information, make one variable and test the results, make another variable and test the results, choose a paper plane design that they believe will fly the farthest and test the results, graph the longest and average distances flown for each of paper plane trails.
Older students may write-up experimental procedures, results, and conclusions. Resources/Materials:
DATA SHEET: Name ____________________________
Type of plane ____________________________ (ie. paper clip plane)
Trial 1 __________
Trial 2 __________
Trial 3 __________
Trial 4 __________
Trial 5 __________
Shortest trial ______________
Longest trial __________________
Activities and Procedures:
To test your paper airplanes a space at least 60 feet long is needed. The school cafeteria, gym, multipurpose room, or a long hallway will work. The planes are made to be flown, but only during the measured trials. A couple rules are needed. Students flying planes not during the trials will lose their opportunity to fly that day. Students must have a partner to collect the data.
Tying it all Together:
After the graphs are finished, they should be displayed with the data sheets. Review the scientific process. Review what was tested and what was changed for each series of flights. See how the predictions of the longest flying experimental design turned out. Using the graphs check if one design was always the farthest flying. Check the graphs to see if one variable made a difference in distance for the majority of planes and discuss why it did not work for all planes. Students should be able to outline other things which could be tested.
This can be a fun activity. Making planes once a week can make the project last four to five weeks. The activity provides several opportunities for cross curriculum activities in the areas of social studies (transportation, history of light, impact of flight on our society) and language arts (report writing and creative writing) It is simple to do and enjoyable if one can endure a little chaos during the flight trials.