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Paper Airplane Challenge

Paper airplanes come in all shapes and sizes. Some paper airplanes fly very straight, while others curve or do loop-the-loops. And, like real planes, some can carry more cargo than others. Put your design skills to the test to build the paper airplane of your dreams.

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  • What do you know about the parts of an airplane?
  • How does an airplane work?
  • What do you know about building paper airplanes?
  • What do you want your paper airplane to do? Do you want your plane to fly straight or do tricks? Fly the farthest or carry the most cargo?
  • How will you know which plane flew the farthest?
  • How will you measure which plane could carry the most cargo?
  • What design will you create and build?


  • Design, fold and test your paper airplane.
  • Test how far your airplane can fly, and how straight it flies.
  • Next, test how much cargo your plane can carry over a set distance.


  • What do you know now that you did not know before?
  • Which planes flew the farthest? Why?
  • What made a plane fly straight? What made a plane curve to the left or right?
  • Which planes could carry the most cargo? What made one plane stronger than another?
  • What elements of STEM were in this adventure? Science? Technology? Engineering? Mathematics?
  • What did you like about this adventure? What did you not like? What would you do differently?


  • Paper – different types and sizes
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Coins (to use as cargo)

Keep it Simple

  • Start by folding a simple paper airplane to practice your folding skills. Then, choose a more complicated plane design and try folding it. How does it fly compared to the first one that you made?

Take it Further

  • Create a series of challenges for your planes – have competitions for distance, hang time, best trick and most cargo carried. You can either have everyone make one plane for each contest, or one plane for all of them. Keep track of how everyone does and crown your ultimate paper airplane champ!