World Record Paper Airplane - Time Aloft Physics of Flight - Paper Airplane challenge


Your teacher has been watching you make paper airplanes in the classroom and then compete with each other to see how far or how accurately you can toss these planes. I have a challenge for you, can you make a paper airplane that stays aloft longer than another students airplane in our class? Can you beat the World Record for a paper airplane time aloft? What is the word record for a paper airplane maintaining lift from a single throw from level ground?


Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to design and fold a single sheet of copy paper (8 1/2" x 11") into a paper airplane to beat the World’s Record (or at least win the record for our class) for greatest time aloft. You may use scissors to cut parts off of your plane but you may not add any parts or tape to your airplane as this will increase the overall mass.

You teacher will provide you with the paper and any appropriate tools you may need during the construction process. Before the competition stage of this activity, you will present your plane to your teacher for final inspection and measurements.

Please watch the video below before beginning the next stage of this web quest.


The task for this web quest are broken into 6 main parts. Please pick up a World Record Paper Airplane package from your teacher before you continue on to the next step.

Part 1: Hypothesis - Note: Your hypothesis must be written in a complete sentence. ( Example: I hypothesize, after three trails, that a paper airplane with wide wings and an overall square shape will stay in the air for 50 seconds. )

Part 2: Research - RESEARCH CURRENT WORLD RECORDS - Please use the internet to find the following information

1. Who holds the current world’s record (As determined by Guinness) for the longest time aloft (in the air) flight of a paper airplane?

2. What is the total time aloft (in the air) of the current world’s record (As determined by Guinness) of a paper airplane?

3. When was the world’s record for total time aloft (in the air) set?

4. Where was the world’s record for the total time aloft (in the air) set?

5. Describe the paper airplane (size, folds, and any modifications) used to set this world’s record:

6. Describe any special conditions used by the person who set this world’s record( inside a building, certain temperature or time of day, who threw the plane? ):

7. Resources: (Where did you find your information?) If this is an internet resource, please write the entire web address, Google and Wikipedia are not appropriate sources

Part 3: Design, Build, and FLY!!! - Design and build (fold) a paper airplane to beat the world’s record (or at least win the record for our class) for greatest time aloft. You may use scissors to cut parts off of your plane but you may not add any parts or tape to your airplane as this will increase the overall mass.

You may use the internet or media center to research successful paper airplane designs. Here is one of many videos available on the internet on how to fold a paper airplane to maintain the greatest lift. Remember, You Tube can be our friend or our enemy, you make the choice.

After you design your plane you will have three “test flights” before you begin recording your information. As always - Newton has three laws, We study three main principles, there are three main parts to the metric system, and scientists try their experiments at least three times before recording the final data.

Using the chart provided by your teacher in the World Record Paper Airplane package, record five actual flights of your paper airplane. If you have a problem with one of the flights ( you hit something, the wind sends your plane backwards, etc. ) you may try again, but please do not abuse this privilege. No more than five flights please.

If your plane is damaged, gets stuck in a tree, or is just not working, you may recycle the plane and build a new one but you must keep any results that you have already recorded. Remember, this is just paper.

You must work with a partner to ensure that you are standing in the same launching area each time.

Your partner will start the timer as soon as you throw the paper airplane and stop the timer as soon as the plane lands on the ground. Please round all numbers ( time in seconds ) to the nearest tenth.

Part 4: Graphing -1. On the graph paper provided by your teacher complete the following to create a “Total Time Aloft” bar graph for the results from your time trials.

- Write an appropriate title on the graph for this activity.

- Label the horizontal axis with the number of the trial (Ex. Trial 1, Trail 2, etc.)

- Label the vertical axis for time.

- Create a “Bar Graph” to plot each item. Please color your bar graph.

Part 5: Three Questions - Pick Two of the following ( A, B, or C ) and write your response in complete sentences on the World Record Paper Airplane packet provided by your teacher.

1. From this activity, write and explain which part is your manipulated variable and which part is your responding variable.

2. Do you think your method of timing this activity was accurate? Did the Time Keeper always start at the appropriate time? Write and explain how the accuracy of the timing could be improved.

3. Several variables affected your paper airplane in this experiment. Write and explain what could be done to reduce the variables working against the paper airplane how this could increase the overall distance of the flight.

Part 6: The Competition - Bring your final and best airplane to your teacher for final measurement. Please ensure your name is written on your air plane as each plane should have a different design.


Student has a clear, well written hypothesis that is written in a complete sentence. _____ / 10 points

Student completed the “Research Current World Records” activity for greatest distance. _____ / 20 points

“Design And Build For Time Aloft” activity is complete and all math calculations are correct. _____ / 20 points

“Distance to Time” graph is complete and easy to understand. Student followed all directions for this graphing assignment. _____ / 20 point

Student completed the “Answer Three Questions” activity and their explanations are clear and written in complete sentences. _____ / 30 points

Total grade out of 100 points = ______________


Created with images by Pen Waggener - "Paper Airplanes" • tuchodi - "Paper Flight" • Bluesnap - "paper ream stack" • Unsplash - "plane wing airplane" • Picography - "notebook laptop work" • vincentvan - "papers aeroplane crafts" • ladynottingham - "King of Pain" • julianlimjl - "stopwatch" • stevepb - "calculator calculation insurance" • Stefan Baudy - "Question!" • mcmay - "Ignite Austin Paper Airplanes (10 of 30)" • Jerry Gunner - "OK-5710 Blanik L-13 landing at Chrudin"

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