Flying Machines Support Document

Flying Machines Support Document

The following information can be used to aid students in creating their flight vehicles. It is better if students try to design the vehicles themselves; if time is an issue, this worksheet will aid them. Provide students with the particular worksheet for the vehicle they are creating.

Specific Teacher Instructions:

Hot Air Balloon

Before deciding whether you will purchase a kit, read the information provided in the Hot Air Balloon worksheet.

You may want to purchase a kit from a company, such as Pitsco Part Product ID: 29609 (for 1 balloon) or Product ID: 29610 for 25 balloons. While the kits are complete with excellent directions, these balloons are more difficult to build because the edges of the segments are rounded.

Building Compressed Air Rockets

The following are the materials needed for Building Compressed Air Rockets:

Materials Needed:

·  Ordinary sheet of 8-1/2 in. by 11 in. paper

·  Glue stick

·  Masking tape

·  Cool melt glue sticks and glue gun or white glue

·  Modeling clay (nosecone)

·  Cardstock-weight paper (nosecone)

·  Lightweight cardboard / chipboard (fins)

·  Pre-made fin alignment jig

Building Kites

After reading over the options below, determine which you will have your students do in order to design and build a kite.

Option One: Follow Tetrahedral Kite or Sled Kite directions

Option Two: Buy a Book

There are many books available on the market which will show patterns and directions for building kites. Excellent resources are:

·  Building Kites: Flying High with Math by Belsky (Pitsco Product ID: W53173)

·  Fly a Kite by Bachmeyer (Pitsco Product ID: W51465)

·  Kites for Everyone by Greger (Pitsco Product ID: W53187)

There are also many resources on the Internet:

·  Make Your Own Kite:

·  Learn2 Make a Kite:

Option Three: Buy a Kit

Many of the technology resource companies have their own kite kits. Pitsco Product ID: 56772 (for one kite) or Product ID: 23626 (for 30 kites) is an easy way to get all of the directions and supplies you need.

Building Model Gliders

After reading the worksheet for the Building Model Gliders, you will need to decide which of the methods you will use for the building of the model gliders:

Option One: Whitewings

·  Purchase from Pitsco Whitewings: Elite Flight Gliders (Product ID: W57507). The kit includes six Whitewings paper fiber airplanes with a fuselage made of balsa wood, a catapult launcher, and instruction manual.

Option Two: Use templates from NASA



Option Three: Buy a Book

·  Purchase either of the following books about paper airplanes, and let students go to work.

Ø  Kid’s Paper Airplane Book by Blackburn and Lammers (Pitsco Product ID: 58492)

Ø  Model Gliders by Rutherford (Pitsco Product ID: W58186)

Ø  The Gliding Flight by Collins (Pitsco Product ID: W59508)

Ø  The Metric Glider by Bachmeyer (Pitsco Product ID: W10002)

Ø  Look on the Internet for paper airplane ideas,fid,5125,00.asp

·  Purchase Best Ever Paper Airplanes by Norman Schmidt (Pitsco Product ID: W33411). Photocopy several of the gliders in the books from which students can then choose. There are both flying and non-flying models.


Option One: Very Easy – Wright Brothers’ Bat

Wright Bat kits - Purchase from Pitsco (Product ID: 58815) or any other of the numerous tech equipment suppliers. The kit is cheap, very easy to assemble, requires no cutting or gluing, and is very durable. Unfortunately, it is almost too easy. It assembles in minutes. If you use this option you may want to add the following requirement: Before constructing the Wright Bat Kit investigate the following two websites, and construct two working examples (one large and one small) of the ‘paper helicopters’ described.

Option Two: Build a Helicopter

Plans for building a Wright Bat from scratch can be found below or purchased from Tech Directions ( Directions and materials are easy to follow, but involve the use of a drill press and saws. You will need to have prior knowledge of machine use and safety. Completion of the project may be too difficult for younger students.

Option Three: Hovercraft

This is a self-propelled hovercraft, designed to use only one motor which will both lift the vehicle, as well as propel it forward. The hovercraft works by creating a high pressure zone inside the meat tray. The escaping air travels under the rim of the meat tray, causing the tray to lift off the ground very slightly. The top part of the propeller provides thrust, causing the whole vehicle to move forward.

The following pages may be copied for students to use and follow according to your directions.

© 2011 Project Lead The Way, Inc.

PLTW Gateway – Flight and Space Activity 4.1.2 Flying Machines Support Document – Page 27

Hot Air Balloon Construction

Materials Needed:

·  9 sheets tissue paper

·  Construction paper strip

·  Glue stick, scissors, ruler, pencil

·  Hot air balloon launcher OR hot air popcorn popper (~ 1440 watts)

1.  Make a square 20 inches by 20 inches. /
2.  Make four rectangles 20 inches by 26 inches. Cut two from one color and two from a second color. /
3.  Make four trapezoids as shown. Cut two from one color and two from a second color. /
4.  Glue the rectangles and trapezoids into panels, alternating colors. /
5.  Glue the square on top. /
6.  Make a construction paper ring 1/2 inch by 26 inches. Glue it on to the bottom edge of the balloon. /
7.  Hold over heat source and launch. Be sure to follow all safety precautions.

Hot Air Balloon History Websites

If you have not already investigated hot air balloons, you may find the following websites helpful in learning more:

·  EBalloon Hot Air Balloon Pictures:

·  How Stuff Works:

·  Nova Online:

·  NASA Glenn Learning Technologies Project:

Compressed Air Rocket Construction

The following directions are provided to aid in the construction of a compressed air rocket.

Materials Needed:

·  Ordinary sheet of 8-1/2 in. by 11 in. paper

·  ½” x 12” dowel rod

·  Glue stick

·  Masking tape

·  Cool melt glue sticks and glue gun or white glue

·  Modeling clay (nosecone)

·  Cardstock-weight paper (nosecone)

·  Lightweight cardboard / chipboard (fins)

·  Pre-made fin alignment jig

1.  Using the Pattern page supplied to you by your instructor, select the style fin you will use on your rocket and cut out the pattern. Cut out the pattern for the nose cone.

2.  Trace your chosen pattern onto the chipboard either three or four times, depending on the number of fins you choose to place on your rocket. Cut out your fins and decorate them, if you so choose.

3.  Using the alignment jig, wrap your 8-1/2 in. by 11 in. piece of paper around the dowel the long way (so that your rocket is 11 in. tall). Using a small piece of masking tape, tape the loose end shut and remove the rocket body from the jig.

4.  Test the rocket body on the compressed air launcher to be sure it fits. If it doesn’t, re-roll the paper around the jig a little looser.

5.  Once certain that the body will fit on the compressed air launcher, seal the loose edge with either more masking tape, a glue stick, or both.

6.  Take the previously cut nose cone pattern and trace its shape on to the cardstock. Cut it out, also removing the pie-shaped piece. Form it into a cone by overlapping the two “pie” edges and sealing with masking tape. The bottom of the cone should be just a little bit wider than the body of the rocket.

7.  Form a piece of modeling clay the approximate size of a quarter onto the top of the rocket, and press the nose cone onto the clay, adhering it to the rocket body.

8.  Return the rocket body with nose cone to the jig. Use the placement indicators on the jig to mount the fins. You may use cool melt adhesive or white glue to adhere the fins to the body.

9.  Launch when ready. Be sure to follow all safety precautions.

NOTE: If using dual launchers, you and your partner(s) may want to promote scientific investigation by using two rockets of similar design but with one specific difference, such as:

·  A body tube launched with tail fins, and one without.

·  Two rockets with the same fin design, but one with three and one with four fins.

·  Longer and shorter body tubes.

·  Rockets with identically shaped fins made from varying materials.

The following patterns may be used in your construction:

Fin Alignment Jig

Suggest laminating the jig to a piece of wood, and drilling a hole for the dowel which will hold the rocket body.

Rocket History Websites

·  About Inventors – History of Rockets:

·  NASA Glenn Learning Technology Project:

·  ALLSTAR Network:

·  David Newman – The History of Rockets:

·  Spaceline -

© 2011 Project Lead The Way, Inc.

PLTW Gateway – Flight and Space Activity 4.1.2 Flying Machines Support Document – Page 27

Tetrahedral Kite Construction

Section One:

Facts about the Tetrahedral Kite

1.  Four pyramid shapes are joined together to make the Tetrahedron Kite.

2.  Each pyramid shape is built according to the instructions and then attached to the other pyramid shapes to form the Tetrahedron Kite.

3.  A tetrahedron is a three dimensional object which has four triangular faces. Tetra means “four” and hedron means “three dimensional object.”

4.  The completed Tetrahedron Kite is a series of airfoils. Each pyramid shape is an airfoil and provides lift as the air moves across its surface.

Kite Terms

·  Lifting surface template (LST): A template is a pattern used to make several identical items. The Lifting Surface Template is used to outline or provide the boundaries for the surface of each kite wing. Air moving across the surface causes the wing to lift.

·  String measurement guide: A printed measurement ruler located on the Lifting surface template.

·  Vertex: A corner of a kite.

·  Aerodynamics: The study of different forces that act on an object as it moves relative to the air.

·  Airfoil: A body, such as a kite or an airplane wing, which is designed so that lift is created when it moves through the air.

·  Angle of attack: The angle the chord of an airfoil makes with the direction of the airflow.

·  Bridle: Two or more lines, called legs, that attach the kite to the flying line at the tow point and set the angle of attack.

·  Drag: The resistance of the air to the forward motion of the kite.

·  Flying line: The string that holds the kite captive to the wing.

·  Towing point: The point where the kite attaches to the bridle and sets the angle of attack.

Section Two:

Materials Needed:

·  2 construction clips

·  50 plastic drinking straws

·  1 sheet of 20 in. X 30 in. tissue paper

·  1 glue stick

·  1 lifting surface template

·  1 spool of kite string

·  1 pair of scissors

·  1 ruler

Constructing a Kite

1.  Locate the string measurement guide on the lifting surface template.

2.  Locate the spool of kite string.

3.  Measure and cut four strings that are 40 in. long.

4.  Measure and cut eight strings that are 14 in. long.

5.  Using one of the 40 in. pieces of string, thread the string through three plastic straws.

6.  Tie the two loose ends of the string together. Leave 2 in. of string on one side of the knot and about 12 in. of string on the other side. The straws should now form a triangular shape.

7.  Make an extra knot in the string to strengthen the original knot. Set this triangle aside.

8.  Congratulations! You have made the triangular straw framework for one of the four surfaces of the Tetrahedron Kite wings.

Tetrahedron kite wing: straw triangle

9.  Repeat steps 5 through 7 three more times to make three more straw triangles like the first one.

Three additional straw triangles

10. Take a straw triangle and tie one of the 14 in. strings to one of the triangle’s vertices opposite the vertex with the 2 in. and 12 in. string hanging from it.

11. Take another 14 in. string and tie it to the third vertex of the straw triangle.

12. Thread the string from one of the straw triangle’s vertices through a straw.

13. Thread the string from the second vertex of the straw triangle through another straw.

14. Take the two strings just threaded and tie them together. A diamond shape is the result that will form two surfaces of one kite wing.

Diamond shape

15. Repeat steps 9 through 13 three more times to make three more diamond shapes that will form two surfaces of one kite wing.

16. Locate the LST sheet and cut out the template.

17. Fold the 20 in. X 30 in. sheet of tissue paper as shown on the LST.

18. Locate the two construction clips.

19. Attach the LST to the tissue by placing the clips on the long folded edge.

20. Important: Place the LST’s longest side along the long fold of the folded tissue paper.

21. Use sharp scissors to cut around five sides of the LST. Do not cut along the long fold where the clips are attached.

22. Unfold one of the four pieces of tissue paper. The shape it forms should closely resemble the drawing below:

Tissue paper shape

23. Place the diamond-shaped straw figure on the unfolded piece of tissue.

24. Place the center straw (between the two triangular shapes) at the center of the unfolded tissue paper as shown in the drawing below. Important: The tissue paper should extend equally in all directions from under the diamond shape.

Straw placed on tissue paper

25. Use the glue stick to place a strip of glue along one of the four edges of the cutout sheet.

26. Fold the glued edge of the tissue paper over the straw and press it smoothly to the tissue surface.