Applied Science - Technology (6A)

  • Exploring friction and drag.
  • Experimenting with different types of gliders.


  • air resistance
  • drag
  • friction
  • paper models
  • scissors
  • tape measure

Students test different paper gliders.


Objects that fall through the air experience a frictional force of air resistance. The objects rate of falling depends on four things; the physical dimensions, length, height, and volume of the falling object, the speed of a falling object, and the design of that body, and surface characteristics.

A feather dropped in air will appear to "float" before it hits the bottom surface. This happens because the air resistance acting on the feather has enough force to keep suspended in air. A pencil, falls quickly. You or your students should demonstrate this with objects like tissue, balls, or anything handy. Students should predict how the object will fall before it actually drops.

  1. In this lab the students will use 5 different models of gliders (see enclosed drawings on how to make them). Assign one glider per group. Give them the appropriate information from the enclosed directions. You may want each student to make one glider each, or to work in partners. Make sure there are at least two of each of the models.
  2. After the students construct their model have them see which glider travels the farthest into the direction of wind and with the wind. Use an area on the playground that you have already measured from a starting point. This will make it much easier to measure for the students. We recommend using the metric system.
  3. Students should follow their lab sheet and obtain information from 10 trials; then determine the average from the data. Have them record the data and resulting averages.
  4. Use 20 lb paper (normal writing paper) to make the gliders.
  5. This data will be used for the post lab to construct a graph of the results.

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