Sky’s the limit for paper plane pilots

(L to R) Daniel Hawkins, Noah McCarthy and Dominic Coonan
(L to R) Daniel Hawkins, Noah McCarthy and Dominic Coonan

Jenny Barlass

Five young flying aces from Normanhurst West Public School outflew hundreds of other kids from around the state when they aced their divisions at the NSW All Schools Paper Plane Challenge.

The event at Sydney University saw 600 children aged from kindy to Year 12 across the state create paper planes using a variety of designs, competing in either distance or time aloft categories with their creations, and based on their age group.

“It’s organised by the Paper Pilots which the movie Paper Planes is based on,” said Year 5 teacher Rebecca McNaughton.

“But the Paper Planes challenge is about so much more than making planes out of paper. It’s an opportunity for kids to step outside and engage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Students are learning the art of aerodynamics – how the design of their plane’s wings, body, nose and tail will significantly affect its flight. Each time the children alter a part of their design, they are also learning about the importance of variables, as well as resilience and trial and error.”

The kids do qualifying heats at school based on distances flown – a minimum of 15 metres and five seconds for the youngest, with those amounts increasing for every year they’re older. The paper has to be A4, under 100 gsm in weight, not torn or marked and only folded.

The children get to practice their flying skills at school during lunchtimes, though weekend studying of YouTube clips to help perfect their art also happens.

Normanhurst West’s proud winners were

*Noah McCarthy, winning Air Time Champion in Senior Pilot (year 6) division for 8.16 seconds in the air,

*Daniel Hawkins for Distance Champion for 20.9 metres in the Master Pilot (year 5) division, *Ellis Tutty with 5.03 seconds won Air Time Champion in the Junior Pilot (year 3) division, *Dominic Coonan won second place for Distance in the Junior Pilot (year 3) division with 17 metres.

Ellis’  tips on paper plane creation and flying:
For Airtime you need a different plane design to the one you’d make for distance. I used a bigger wingspan and threw the plane up rather than straight. I made it heavier at the front with the bigger wingspan, so when you throw it up, there’s less pressure bringing it back down. It goes wavy in the air instead.’
Budding paper aviators can learn more at: .http://www.paperplanes.youngscientist.com.au/

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