Make a paper helicopter that actually flies! This is an awesome paper STEM challenge for young kids and older ones too. Learn about what helps helicopters rise into the air, with a few simple supplies. We have loads more fun STEM activities for you to try!
HOW TO MAKE A PAPER HELICOPTER
HELICOPTER STEM CHALLENGE
Get your kids thinking about forces in motion with this simple helicopter activity. STEM for kids doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.
Some of the best STEM activities are also the cheapest! Keep it fun and playful, and not make it too difficult that it takes forever to complete.
Take up the challenge to make a paper helicopter with our easy paper helicopter instructions below. Find out what makes a helicopter able to lift off from the ground and see how high and long you can get your own paper helicopter to fly.
STEM QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
These questions for reflection are perfect to use with kiddos of all ages to talk about how the challenge went and what they might do differently next time around.
Use these questions for reflection with your kids after they have completed the STEM challenge to encourage discussion of results and critical thinking.
Older kiddos can use these questions as a writing prompt for a STEM notebook. For younger kiddos, use the questions as a fun conversation!
- What were some of the challenges you discovered along the way?
- What worked well and what did not work well?
- What would you do differently next time?
HOW TO MAKE A PAPER HELICOPTER
- Helicopter template
- Push pin
- Wine cork
STEP 1: Print the paper helicopter template and cut out the cardstock.
STEP 2: Fold it into a pinwheel shape.
STEP 3: Use the push pin to secure the pinwheel and attach to the wine cork. This will provide weight to your design.
STEP 4: Take your paper helicopter outside and toss into the air! How long can it stay in the air?
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE PAPER HELICOPTER
Unlike airplanes, helicopters have rotor blades which spin horizontally. It is the spinning of the blades that creates lift, which is an upward force of air.
When your pinwheel helicopter falls it is due to the force of earth’s gravity. Lift and the design of the rotors help it stay in the air.
It naturally falls to the ground which causes the paper to bend slightly upward due to lift. When your paper helicopter falls, air pushes up against the blades, with equal force, and the shape causes the copter to spin. This is because the blades are designed so that the upcoming air is captured and pushes the blades in one direction.
MORE FUN THINGS TO BUILD
Also try one of these easy engineering projects below.
Build your own mini hovercraft that actually hovers.
Be inspired by American mathematician Evelyn Boyd Granville and build a satellite.
Design an airplane launcher to catapult your paper planes.
A good breeze and a few materials are all you need to tackle this DIY kite project.
It’s a fun chemical reaction that makes this bottle rocket take off.
MAKE A PAPER HELICOPTER FOR STEM
Click on the image below or on the link for more easy STEM projects for kids.