Hoop Glider

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hoop glider

Hoop Glider

These fun gliders can easily keep your kids entertained for hours, and there are endless ways to tweak them!

What You Will Need
– regular plastic drinking straw
– 3 X 5 inch index card or other form of stiff paper
– tape
– scissors

What You Will Do

Cut out two strips of paper. The first strip should be 1 inch wide and 5 inches long, and the second one is 1 inch wide and 10 inches long. Curl each paper strip and tape the ends together, forming loops. You should have a small hoop and a bigger hoop.

Attach the small hoop to the end of the straw with tape. Next tape the big hoop to the other end of the straw. The two hoops should be evenly lined up.

To use your hoop glider, hold the middle of the straw, angled so the small hoop is in the front. Throw the glider like a javelin. The glider should gracefully glide through the air. If it doesn’t fly right on your first attempt just keep practicing! It can take a while to master the throwing technique.

Check out this video for additional help.

What is Going On?

When you do this experiment, also try throwing a normal straw to see what happens. Children will notice that it doesn’t go very far, but when paper hoops are added the straw will glide through the air as if it has wings. And in a way, it does!

Flying objects, whether they be birds, insects, airplanes or helicopters, all have wings. But none of these wings are identical. Wings come in all different shapes and sizes, and different types can help with different forms of flight. The long, powerful wings that help an eagle fly would be pretty useless on a jittery hummingbird!

Try changing the angles and length of the wings on your glider to see how the changes affect its ability to fly.

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Oliver Gauss
Oliver has a degree in physics and mathematics and has completed all but his dissertation for a Ph.D. in Physics. He believes actual science should decide scientific disagreements, and that most people who use "science" to defend their emotion-based opinions have no idea what science actually is. Oliver is the editor of WeWantScience.com and has two new sites coming out soon. Stay tuned!