Thursday, March 12, 2009

Say Hello to Our Paper Airplane Champion!

Happy Science Week, everyone. At our school, that means it's time for the annual Family Science Night Competition, which is always hotly contested.

The first year, the Spaghetti Challenge, I nearly had a nervous breakdown because Thing Two just wanted to eat all the marshmallows and I couldn't figure out how to do it. (Important Note: the point of the evening is that CHILDREN learn about science, not that adults do it for them. However, sometimes it's hard to not jump in.) Needless to say, we lost.

The second year, the Egg Challenge, went much better for us. When I say "much better" I mean we won it, which was awesome. The challenge was to create a container that would protect an egg when it was dropped from different heights. We did a parachute/double-cup with shock insulation contraption, which helped the egg survive the first drop, from 10 feet, the second drop, from 15 feet, and the third drop, from the school's first-story window. The competition ended there because the school doesn't have another floor. The winner was chosen by lottery from all of those that survived the third drop. So you might say that our victory was not a pure one, but a victory is a victory, I say. 

Last year, the Car Challenge, was a disaster for us. You had to make a car out of the materials provided. For a family whose favourite show is Top Gear the fact that we couldn't construct a car that would win, let alone get across the start line, is a cruel irony. The less said about the competition, the better.

Finally, this year, we had the Paper Airplane Challenge. Again, you had to use the materials provided to make a paper airplane that flew the farthest. But Thing One knows the value of preparation, and he had spent the previous day reading our book about paper airplanes to figure out which design would be the best. We tested several models, and then he reached his decision. "The Professional" is the one that works best. Thing Two then memorized the instructions, so he could do it for the challenge. We were ready, but I kept telling the boys we had already won once, so we didn't have to win again. 

We got to school, gave our team the name, "The Empire Strikes Back," Thing Two's contribution, and Thing One got to work. We had 20 minutes to get the plane done, but he had it all folded and ready to go in under five. (Here's a tip for future Paper Airplane Contestants: Good Folding means Good Flying). There were several heats and our little Professional kept on winning.

At last, it was time for the final three: Our Little Professional, a huge Concorde-resembling plane, and another that resembled a 747. The whistle blew, and off they flew. But the Professional and the Concorde seemed to flown an equal distance, so we replayed the final. I could barely take the suspense. Again, the whistle blew and off they flew, and when all the dust had settled, the winner was US! Whoo-hoo!

But I have to say the thing I loved most about this victory was the fact that the work and the victory was completely down to Thing One. He did the research, he memorized the design, and he flew the plane. He is very proud of himself, and I am even more proud of him.


Anonymous said...

I am thinking of having a paper aeroplane competition at our school. If you have any details of your school's organisation, rules, etc would you be able to email them to me at



gretchen said...


Where did you find the instructions for the "Professional"? I've looked everywhere and it is the one that my grandson wants to make.


Anonymous said...

The Professional is in the book Klutz Paper airplanes. You can order it from Youtube has some instruction videos as well.

Hope this helps.