Introduction: Easy Glider Project

This Instructables tutorial guides you through how to design and build a glider out of cheap easily accessible materials. This tutorial is not meant to be followed exactly as I do it, but I will include the dimensions of everything I do. Students should be allowed the freedom to design the glider as they see fit. Before this tutorial, you should familiarize yourself with flight and how to make things fly. offers an introductory level lesson plan connected to curriculum standards that could be very useful in helping with this activity.

This tutorial is meant for grade 9 and is in line with the Technological standards, specifically Standard 18 M. This standard addresses the uses of intelligent and non-intelligent transportation systems and how they affect innovation on processes.

While it's not a requirement for this specific tutorial, Project Lead The Way(PLTW) offers a free software that can be downloaded called AERY. This software allows the user to design a glider based on the parameters or material restrictions that are given. Inside this software they can also ask it if the design they created will fly and if it won't it gives them suggestions on how to correct their design so it will fly. This software can be very time consuming and slightly frustrating, so I would suggest allowing more time for this activity if you decide to use this software. Here is a short video with how its used.


This tutorial uses a foam board like material, however, this could be replaced with balsa wood or cardboard depending on availability. Per group of people you will need:

- 1 scissor(4 pack for 9.99 plus tax from Amazon)

- 1 Hot Glue Gun/Stick( 1 gun and 10 glue sticks for $4.27 plus tax from Walmart)

- 12 in X 12 in Foam Board Piece( 1 36 x 48 presentation foam board for $9.99 plus tax from target(makes 12 pieces)

- Paper (for your design) ( 1 ream of paper(300 sheets) for $3.00 plus tax from Walmart)

- Ruler( 1 Wescott 12 in ruler for $.83 plus tax from Office Depot)

- Sharpie(12 black sharpies for $8.48 plus tax from Amazon)

- X-Acto Knife(optional)(1 for $3.67 plus tax from walmart)

- Self Healing Pad(optional)( 1 6in X 8in mat for $4.99 plus tax from Hobby Lobby)

Cost per group with optional items: $ 17.81 plus tax

Cost per group without optional items: $ 9.15 plus tax

Only Need 1 Total:

- Timer(Suggested to use a phone)

-Tape Measure(12' tape measure for $2.99 plus tax at Office Depot)

Step 1: Create Your Glider Design

This is where you would use AERY if you decided that's how you would like to proceed with the tutorial. However, I will not be using this software for my glider design.

-Start off by researching the type of glider you want to make. There are a variety of different wing shapes and sizes that could be effective.

-On your sheet of paper draw out your glider design. You can use as much or as little of the foam board as you want, but you cannot use more than the 12 in X 12 in square. You must fit the wings, body, vertical stabilizer, and the stabilizer on this square of foam board, so using your ruler to sketch out the pieces is suggested.

- After you have your pieces drawn out on the paper cut them out, and using the sharpie trace them onto the foam board.

Step 2: Cut Out the Pieces of the Glider

After you have all your pieces fitted on the board, you should cut them out. It is useful here to use your X-acto knife and cutting pad to score the board to make it easier to cut. However, if you don't have access to these materials using scissors works just as well.

Step 3: Put Together Your Glider

Once all your pieces are cut out, use the hot glue gun and hot glue stick to put them together. A minimalistic approach to gluing would be beneficial so it doesn't weigh the glider down too much.

Step 4: Test Your Glider

Try throwing your glider a few times to see how it flies. Make any adjustments you think are needed to make it fly better. Some common problems include too much weight, not enough weight, or wings being too big or small. It is encouraged that you go and research your specific issue.

Step 5: Final Tests and Data Collection

Set up markers on the ground or use a tape measure to determine the distance your glider has flown. Make sure to record the time flown as well. If you're doing this with a class, turning it into a competition makes it more fun for the entire class!