Science Experiment for Kids: Paper Airplanes


Flight. In theory it makes sense, but to see it in action makes it seem like magic to me. I think that is why paper airplanes are so much fun. The fact that you can turn an ordinary piece of paper into a flying machine in theory makes sense, but in action seems magical.

There are thousands of ways to make a paper airplane. Each fold creates a different result. Some successful. Some not.

Today, we are looking at what would happen if you change just one simple fold in a science experiment from the book Potentially Catastrophic Science by Sean Connelly.

Science Experiment Using Paper Airplanes


  • Four pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 paper
  • Scissors
  • 3 kids


First you want to make 4 identical paper airplanes.


paper airplanes

These were made by folding the paper in half lengthwise and opening back up.  Fold the upper corners into triangles to the mid-line fold line.  Fold over those triangles with another, longer triangle that goes down almost the entire side of the paper.  Reverse the original lengthwise fold and form wings by folding down very long triangles.

Cut a one inch length slit into each wing at the rear so the wing tip can be folded.

paper airplane with folded wing

Fold the first plane with both wing tips up, the second with both down, the third with the right up and left down and the fourth with the right down and the left up.

four paper airplanes with folded wings

Now stand together with your kid helpers. You are going to throw all four airplanes at the same time in the same direction to see what happens.




When we did this at grandma & grandpa's house we found that one plane headed down, one plane spiraled right, one plane spiraled left and one did an upward loop de loop.

Why does that happen? Once a plane is airborne, there is still the matter of steering it.  Pilots do this by raising and lowering flaps on the wings and tail of the plane. The cool thing about this experiment was that after we finished, we still had four perfectly amazing paper airplanes to play with...

paper airplane throwing doesn't get much better than that.

science experiments for kids The complete experiment directions and theory are available on Scribd. This is the fifth fun and easy science experiment that you can do with your kids at home. The following are the other experiments within this series:

The entire series was inspired by the people at Workman. They publish an array of crazy cool children’s science resources.  What I love about this series of science books for children is that they are extremely accessible.  The directions are simple and most of the supplies you probably already have at home.  It is pretty awesome to discover flight in your living room.

Holly Homer author of June Cleaver Nirvana When Holly isn’t mass producing paper airplanes, she is writing.  She is the stay at home mom of three boys. She is a Dallas Area Blogger who writes June Cleaver Nirvana and is the editor of She is Dallas. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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