Paper copter is a fun childhood toy. It costs very little money to make since you can use the filled A4 sheets which you don’t need and its easily accessible. This is a classic example of how something as simple as a copter can have endless possibilities of investigations. Even scientist find it intriguing to investigate and explore the science behind this simple toy. Have a look at the design below.

How do we design the slowest paper copter keeping in the consideration of the above constraint?

Some of the possible investigation for deep diving:

What happens if you add a paper clip on its tail? Does it impact the flight time or the rotation? Let me know what do you think

Data collection and analysis strategies

What are the possible methods to measure the rotations and time of flight?

One could be using a slow motion feature of the smartphone. Look at this video below! Can you think of any other simpler strategy? Below you can see Jude dropping the copter

How would the time of flight vary with the height?

How will it vary with the weight of the design?

Does the weight of the paper copter impact the number of rotations?

Which are the forces responsible for the rotations?

How can you change the direction of rotation of paper copter? ( with explanation)

Can you investigate the free body diagram of the paper copter?

Okay, now that you have tinkered around the parameters and had some fun playing with it, here is the challenge part! You have to design a paper copter which has the longest time of flight ( i.e. it takes longest time to touch the ground when dropped from a fixed height). The following are the constraints:

- Dropping height: 8 ft
- Tail length must be 10 cm ( Rectangular strip dimension to be used for construction: 3 cm * 21 cm)
- You can use paper clips to increase the weight on the tail

Share your notes, initial thoughts, experimental design, sources of error, precautions, awe moments and the data which you will collect! Don’t shy away from posting or asking questions or waiting for final perfect design, you can have multiple trials, share your goof-ups and success. The focus is on sharing the journey you walked through and the discoveries which you made along the way !

Happy tinkering!