Birds and Planes: How do they fly?

  • Time Length
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    1-2 hours

  • Mess Level
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    A Little Messy

  • Cost

    Materials or Fees

  • Difficulty
    Shape Created with Sketch.


Question and Wonder:

  • How do birds fly?
  • Why do they move their wings that way?
  • Do all birds move their wing the same way? What do you notice?
  • Do planes fly differently than birds? How? What makes them go?
  • Who controls the plane?Looking at pictures of birds and planes.

Make a paper plane and a paper bird. Talk about how they are designed. Fly your creations several times and talk about what you observe. You can use these templates or design your own.

Imagine and Design

  • What do you notice about them?
  • How are they different? How are they the same?
  • How do you think those differences change the way they fly?
  • Put out your arms and pretend to be a bird and an airplane. How did you move as a bird? An airplane?
  • Why did you move that way? How did your movement change?

Go to a park and watch the birds. Ask your parent or caregiver to take you to a place near the airport where you can watch planes fly. Take binoculars  if you have them and get a close up look.

Test and Discuss:

  • How did your models of birds and panes differ from the real thing?
  •  How could you change your design to make it more like what you observed?
  • Which came first birds or airplanes? Why do you think that?
  • Do you think scientists designed planes by studying birds? Why or why not?
  • What other ways does nature influence design?

Did You Know?:

Birds wings and plane wings have similar shapes. Learn more about the science of flight using the links below.


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