The Wright brothers are usually recognized as the first humans to fly, but in fact, several men were airborne in hot-air balloons and steam-powered air ships prior to the Wright brothers in 1903. Leonardo da Vinci had imagined, produced detailed drawings and investigated the possibility of ‘flying machines’ since the fifteenth century and it is possible that the invention of modern helicopters was inspired by da Vinci’s ‘aerial screw’.
A cheap and effective way to investigate flight and the scientific process with students of all ages in the classroom is to use paper helicopters. These are useful tools to introduce concepts of forces (gravity, air resistance) and the scientific method. Please refer to the following resources to support learning with paper helicopters:
- Exploratorium’s Roto-copter (primary)
- Make and fly a paper helicopter (Foundation to Year 6)
- Surfing Scientist’s “Paper helicopters and looping aeroplanes”
- Discover Primary Science – Paper Helicopters (Year 6)
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – How do paper helicopters work?
- Investigating paper helicopters (Free resource from TES)
- Lab Scientific Method – Helicopter (Level 5-8)
- The Scientific Method – exploring experimental design (Level 7 and 8)
- Using Helicopters to study the scientific method (Level 7 to 10)