Aerodynamics Experiments to Share with Your Kid

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Aerodynamics Experiments to Share with Your Kid

Postby fwizard » Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:24 pm

This article teaches kids about aeronautics and gives a handful of totally fun activities to experiment with for their homeschool science learning (including helicopters, parachutes, and other flying machines). It’s also good for boy scouts working on a badge, or for any kids that love science experiments. These experiments are part of a homeschool science program that I teach, and I promise your kids will love it.
Every flying thing, whether it's an airplane, spacecraft, soccer ball, or flying kid, experiences four aerodynamic primary forces: lift, weight, thrust and drag. An airplane uses a propeller or jet engine to generate thrust. The wings to create lift. The smooth, pencil-thin shape minimizes drag. And the molecules that make up the airplane attributes to the weight.
Let's find out what are all the parts of an airplane for. You'll need to get a cheap balsa wood airplane for this next part - check out your local drug store or toy store. I've even found them in grocery stores for about $2.
Take the balsa wood airplane and try to fly just the body (no wings or fins). It flips all over the place. Try flying just the large wing (no body). Somersaults! Now slide the large wing into the body and fly (fewer somersaults, but still sickening to fly in!). Now add a horizontal stabilizer (elevator) tail, and when you throw it, add a slight curve so the plane "fishtails" in the air (like a car)… but did you notice that there are no more somersaults? Add the vertical tail (rudder) and see how it now steers straight no matter how to curve-throw it.
Sneaky Tip: if you remove the metal clip on the nose beforehand, you can add it last to really see what it's for… notice where most of the weight is without the clip?
Tip for Teaching Homeschool Science: Keep a small box handy with these items inside: paper clips (in two different sizes), rubber bands, scotch tape, scissors, index cards, string, copy paper, hole punch, crayons, and a stapler. Label your box “Flying Paper Machine Equipmentâ€
As a teacher, homeschool science teacher, engineer and university instructor Aurora Lipper has been helping kids learn science for over a decade.
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