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Airplane Race with Recycled Paper

This activity is part of the upcoming Life Skills Initiative - stay tuned for more information!

In this activity, you will make and fly a paper airplane. The goal of this activity is to design your airplane to see if you can make the one that goes the farthest. This means that, for this activity, you will need your team! 

You will also explore the role that aerodynamics, thrust, and gravity can play in how far your paper plane will fly. 

Key Competencies

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving

Materials Needed

  • One letter size (8.5″ x 11″) sheet of printer paper per person
  • Crayons, markers or paint to decorate the paper 
Activity Description
  • Gather your friends and make sure everyone has a sheet of paper to create their own paper airplane. Encourage them to unleash their creativity while designing their airplanes.

  • Once everyone is done crafting their airplanes, ask everyone to line-up at the start line. Make sure there's a clear space for everyone to throw their planes without any obstacles.

  • Now, it's time to start the race! On the leader's signal, shout 'GO' and everyone should throw the airplanes towards the goal line. 

Here's the twist: After the first throw, instruct each Scout to run quickly to where their plane landed, pick it up, and throw it again from that spot. Encourage them to give it their best shot! After a couple of races, you'll notice which airplane designs can fly the farthest, fastest and straightest.

Take a moment to discuss with your friends and share your observations. Which designs were the most successful? Why do you think that happened?

Here are some more questions to ask at the end of the game:

  • How did the solution turn out?  

  • What could I do differently next time?  

  • How would my design be different if I had different materials? 

If you want to add more fun, you can allow a redesign break. Let everyone create new paper airplanes with different designs and race again. This way, you can explore new possibilities and see if someone's new design takes the lead.

Get Ready for the Activity

Since we are using paper, there is a risk of paper cuts. Handle the paper at the folded creases rather than the edges to minimize this risk. If a paper cut occurs, immediately clean and bandage the lesion before continuing the activity. 

When the paper airplane is folded, there is a pointed tip. The nose of the paper airplane is pretty soft (because it’s made of paper), but it can be painful and potentially harmful if thrown at or into an eyeball. For this reason, please insist that paper airplanes are NEVER thrown toward faces. 

Time needed

30 minutes

Age range

  • 11 to 14

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Time needed

30 minutes

Age range

  • 11 to 14