Paper Planes

Students compare and analyse the flight distances (and/or times) of various designs of paper plane.

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Overview of task

Students compare and analyse the flight distances (and/or times) of various designs of paper plane.

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Strands

Number and Measures; Statistics

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Prior knowledge

Students will need a secure understanding of measurement, averages and range. There is scope to use correlation and scatter-diagrams in this activity if students are already familiar with these ideas – alternatively, this could be a good context in which to introduce them.

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Relevance to Core Maths qualifications

  • AQA
  • C&G
  • Eduqas
  • Pearson / Edexcel
  • OCR

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Suggested approaches

This is a collaborative task, ideally suited for group work. Students can work together to design, build, evaluate and test their planes. The activity is reasonably open-ended; although some directions are given, students should be encouraged to make and justify their own decisions about suitable mathematical and statistical approaches.

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Resources/documentation

The supplied PowerPoint presentation provides detailed notes describing each stage of the activity.

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Relevant digital technologies

The following webpage provides a clear and succinct summary of the main points that students should bear in mind when designing their models:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00b9bfk

There are many other relevant resources, including videos with detailed instructions for paper plane construction, available on the internet. Spreadsheets will be useful for recording and analysing data.

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Possible extensions

The PowerPoint presentation provides options for extending the activity, for example by recording and analysing bivariate data (flight distance and duration).

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Acknowledgement

Developed by Ihsan Eltom of Fareham College.