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
Step 4: Step 2 - Make a Rubber Band Chain
Step 5: Step 3 - Wrapping
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.)?