Whoa! STEM in under 10 mins and all you need to do is go grab some paper! What a win for inexpensive STEM activities that are also quick, fun, and educational. Today we made simple air foils and explored air resistance. We love easy STEM activities for kids!



STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. So important to incorporate into lesson plans. We have put together a handy STEM resource with awesome ideas here.

This awesome air resistance STEM activity below requires so little set up and uses simple to grab supplies. We happened to have a bunch of colored computer paper but ordinary white paper will do too! Check out more fun physics for kids here.

We checked out a very cool book from the library called Making Origami Science Experiments Step by Step by Michael LaFosse. In it we found this little gem of a STEM activity, building paper air foils using simple origami folds.

I hadn’t thought about the combination of origami and STEM, but it is the perfect project especially if you just have few minutes. Learn more about air resistance below.

Of course there are many ways to extend this activity into a longer lesson, and I will share some thoughts on that below. Plus we have a handy free printable you can download at the end of this post.

Kids of all ages can participate in this activity! The younger kids will happily enjoy this playful STEM activity and can talk about what they see. While older kids, can take notes and record observations, draw their own conclusions and come up with more experiments!

ALSO CHECK OUT: Easy STEM Activities and Science Experiments With Paper


Of course you want to add in a bit of the science behind this air resistance STEM activity! How does air resistance affect the speed of a falling object like a paper air foil? I bet you have already figured that one out!

Air resistance is a type of friction, which is a force that opposes motion. Small particles and gasses make up air, so an object with a greater surface area will fall more slowly through the air as it has to deal with the resistance or friction of the air.

Increase the surface area and the object will fall more slowly. Decrease the surface area and it will speed up!

You can also experiment to see if throwing the object, thus increasing it’s speed, has any affect on the object. Does it make a difference if you are outside or inside?

There are quite a few ways that you can experiment with air resistance and surface area!

Click here to get your free printable STEM activities pack!



All you need is a few sheets of paper, an open area, and our handy STEM activity printable sheet if you want to extend the lesson. Since you want to conduct an experiment here, you will want to have some trial runs with different air foils. Learn more about the scientific method for kids.


PART 1: To start, you want a control test which will just be your unfolded piece of paper.


Hold the paper out at arms length and release!

  • What happens?
  • What do you notice about the paper moving through the air?
  • Does it drop quickly or slowly?
  • Does it float around a bit or drop straight down?

These are all good points to record in your journal if you are extending the learning portion of this air resistance STEM activity.

PART 2: Let’s test and compare the air resistance of different types of paper.


Luckily this is so simple as I remember some of the crazy origami folds I used to try and make from instructions!

By now you may have developed your hypothesis, which might be: Do different shapes of paper have different air resistance?

To test our thoughts on air resistance, we need to change the shape of the paper and we are going to do it with an origami fold which is called the valley fold.

We chose to make 3 paper air foils all with varying amounts of folds. 1/4 way up the paper, 1/2 way up the paper, and 3/4 way up the paper.

Check out the 1/2 way up air foil below.

A valley fold is not how you would fold a paper fan. You are not flipping back and forth but rather folding the paper over it self until you get to the 1/2 way point or whatever point you choose to test.

The last step for creating your paper air foil is to fold the edges over once on each side as seen below. Nothing fancy. Just a quick and simple air foil with computer paper!

Now it’s time to test out what you know about air resistance. Take your control air foil {the unfolded paper} and test it with the newly folded air foil. Hold both out at arms length and release.

What happens? What observations can you note? What kinds of conclusions can you draw?

We then made an even smaller air foil by valley folding the paper even more! Try another test between the two folded air foils and the unfolded paper. What happens?

Observation skills, critical thinking skills, as well as the ability to persist through failure are all great lessons learned form simple STEM activities.

The difference is not as noticeable but the more compact air foil definitely hit the ground first. What other shapes of air foils can you come up with?

We also chose to try out a scrunched up paper ball. You could also test out different paper airplanes or a helicopter in a similar fashion.



Looking for more STEM activities in 10 minutes or less? Try a classic structure building activity with candy and toothpicksbuilding a 100 cup toweror try a simple LEGO zip line challenge.

There are tons of STEM activities out there that are easy to set up, take very little time to demonstrate or try, and don’t cost a fortune. Here, we want to show you that STEM is accessible for everyone from a classroom full of kids to a family at home.


Click on the image below or on the link for tons more STEM projects for kids.

STEM projects for kids and STEM ideas to keep kids busy all year! Free printable STEM activities pack.