Introduction: Magnus Glider
Use curveball physics to make this glider fly!
This is one of the 48 projects for our Instructables: Made In Your Mind (IMIYM) exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Houston showing from May 26, 2012 - November 4, 2012. Produced in partnership with Instructables, IMIYM is an exhibit where families work together to build different fun, toy-like projects that help construct knowledge and skills related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while instilling a “do-it-yourself” attitude in kids so they feel empowered to explore, tinker, and try to make things themselves. To learn more, check out the article here.
For this project, we were inspired by the $0.05 Toy Hovercraft/Helicopter Instructable created by Hoopajoo, but there may be others on Instructables that are also similar. Often, the materials and process for building our projects are designed for use with a large number of visitors (we see over 800,000 annually) and the need to ensure safety in a mostly non-facilitated environment. So, yes, many of these projects have room for improvement in both materials and methodology, which is PRECISELY what we want to encourage the kids to do. So please do share your ideas for improvement and modifications!
Step 1: What You Need
- 2 – 12 oz. Styrofoam cups
- 4 – Rubber bands, #19
- Masking Tape
Step 2: The Video
Step 3: Step 1 - Build the Glider
Tape the bottoms of the cups together so that the open mouths face away from each other. Make sure the cup bottoms line up evenly with each other. Use several wraps of tape.
Step 4: Step 2 - Make a Rubber Band Chain
Take two rubber bands and loop one around the edge of a second, then back through itself. Pull to make the knot tight. Repeat to connect the other bands to the chain.
Step 5: Step 3 - Wrapping
Use your thumb to hold one end of the chain in the center of the cups. Stretching the rubber bands, but not so tight they damage the cups, wrap the chain around the taped part of the cups while holding onto the end of the chain. Once almost completely wrapped, hook the other end of the chain over your other thumb so that the chain is coming out under the cups. The video may be helpful.
Step 6: The Launch
The way we explain this in the Museum is that this glider uses the Magnus Effect to give it the slow, gentle glide you see. As the cups spin through the air, they create a sort of “whirlpool” of air around them. This “whirlpool” of air exerts an upward force on the cups. Baseball pitchers rely on this same effect to throw a mean curveball!
The next step would be to try to build their own version. What if:
- They used more cups?
- They used different sized cups?
- They used different size rubber band?
- They used longer or shorter rubber band chains?
- They used different kind of cups (plastic, paper, etc.)?