Start by asking your child, “What do you think helps a paper plane fly?” You can talk about things like how much force you use to throw the plane (how hard you throw it), how heavy the plane is, the shape of the plane, the wind, etc. Talk briefly about the forces of push and pull. You can say, “Push and pull are two forces that help paper planes fly. When you throw a paper plane, you push it through the air. The push is called thrust. As the plane moves in the direction you threw it, the air pushes back against the plane. This makes the plane pull back or slow down. The pull is called drag.”
You can say, “You will investigate how giving a plane more drag will affect how far it will fly. How do you think changing the shape of a paper plane to give it more drag could change how far the plane flies?” Allow your child to share their prediction and write it in their journal.
“You can use the paper planes you made to test how far they fly now and how far they fly after you change their shape. You will throw the 3 planes you made 3 times each. You will write down how many inches each plane flies before and after the shape change. A good way to organize how far the planes fly each time is with a data table made up of columns and rows. Data means information. The information or data for your table is the distance each plane flies. Tables can be helpful when we want to compare data.”
Find or make a journal and have your child use the ruler to draw a data table like the example that follows. If your child is in 2nd or 3rd grade,they should write “sum” in the last column; if your child is in 4th or 5th grade, they should write “average.”