Aerodynamics

Great science fair projects for 6th grade can include trying to invent the best flying machines around. Human beings have always dreamed that they could fly like the birds.

Great thinkers like Archimedes and Leonardo da Vinci tried to come up with designs for flying machines, but none of them worked. A few of them could glide off a cliff or extend a man’s jumping ability, but none of them could achieve powered flight.

It wasn’t until the early the 1900s that two bicycle repairmen, the Wright brothers, invented a powered machine that could truly fly.

Project #1: Aerodynamics and Flight




These science fair projects for 6th grade teach the principles of aerodynamics.

MATERIALS:

  • 10 pieces of white printer paper
  • 15-20 paper clips
  • tape measure

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Come up with your hypothesis – what airplanes will fly best: the ones with or without paper clips? If the answer is “with,” where will be the optimal place to put them?

2. Fold 10 paper airplanes out of the paper – make sure that they are all the same design (you can find ideas for your design online)

3. Place paperclips on various parts of each plane. One plane should have no paperclips, and at least one plane should have “unbalanced” paperclips. That is, there should be a paperclip somewhere on one wing, but not on the other. Be creative!

4. Take all 10 airplanes to a large room or calm outdoor area. Make sure there is minimal wind and that your airplanes will have enough space to fly.

5. Let ‘er rip! Throw each plane in turn. Write down the characteristics of each flight: did the plane bank right or left? Did it spin? Did it climb or descend, or even do a flip?

6. Using the tape measure, measure the distance from where you are standing directly to where the airplane landed. Write down in your data book next to each plane.

7. Repeat the experiment 2-3 times. Which plane went the farthest? Which one was the most reliable, showing the least variation in flight path? Did any have particularly interesting characteristics?

8. Present your findings on a poster for impressive science fair projects for 6th grade inspired by the Wright brothers!

*TIP: These are unique science fair projects for 6th grade, but be careful: to take home the blue ribbon, you’ll have to have a clear “variable” that you are investigating. Keep that in mind when coming up with your hypothesis and placing your paper clips.

 

Project #2: Rotational Aerodynamics (Frisbees!)




This science fair project for 6th grade is fun for all ages. It tests the effects of different sizes and shapes on the path of a flying disc

MATERIALS:

  • 3+ Frisbees of different size and shape
  • protractor
  • string
  • tape measure

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Come up with your hypothesis – which of your 3 Frisbees will fly the straightest and the furthest? Why?

2. Take your materials to a park or open space with minimal wind and lots of room

3. (If there is a wind, try to stand with your back to it so that it will have a consistent effect on your Frisbee throws)

4. Pick a “target direction” and lay out several yards of string in a straight line in that direction

5. Throw the first Frisbee. Measure the distance from your starting point to where it landed. If it rolled, try to estimate the spot where it hit the ground.

6. Using your protractor, measure the angle between your target line and the straight line of the tape measure. Use negative degrees if the Frisbee curved to the left, positive degrees if it curved to the right.

7. Right down the results on your data sheet – angle and distance

8. Repeat until you have thrown each Frisbee 10 times and written down the data

9. Graph your results and present them on a poster for a top-notch 6th-grade science fair project!

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