Experimenting With Glider Design

To further understand the principles of air pressure, lift and drag, we conducted an experiment with 2 gliders with different wing designs.  One glider had a short, wide wing and the other glider had a long, narrow wing.  

I created some worksheets based on the Scientific Method to go along with this fun experiment.


*  Cardboard box (pizza box or cereal box)
*  Straws
*  Clay
*  Scissors
*  Tape
*  Tape Measure


1. Cut two rectangles for the wings, one long and narrow (e.g. 1 inch by 8 inches), and one short and wide (e.g. 2 inches by 4 inches)
2. Cut two smaller rectangles of exactly the same size (1 inch by 2 inches) for the glider's tails.
3. Attach the tails and wings to the straws in exactly the same place.
4.  Place a small identical lump of clay on the front end of each straw.


1.  Record your hypothesis on the free Scientific Method experiment worksheet.
2.  Throw one of the gliders and measure the distance it travels.  Record the results on the Data Sheet.
3.  Throw each glider several times in order to get good results.
4.  Average the results for each glider and compare to determine which wing design achieved the best results.
5.  Graph the attempts for each glider as an extra activity.


In general, a long, narrow wing will allow a glider to travel farther than a short, wide wing.  This is mostly due to drag.  The ends of the wing experience a lot of drag due to the way air travels around them.  The longer and narrower the wing, the less the drag, so the farther the glider can travel.

Source:  Apologia - Zoology 1

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