Introduction: Gyro Flyer

About: More than 14 pulsating exhibits make the Children's Museum of Houston one of the top rated in the country. Packed with daily activities and invigorating performances, it’s the place where minds come out to pl…

Make a cylindrical paper airplane!

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've taken an Instructable created by someone else and modified it for use in the Museum. This specific project is based on the Flying Gyroscope Out of a Single Piece of Paper project by mspark400, 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

We are selective in our materials for cost, ease of use, and safety due to our high traffic (800,000 visitors annually). So, for our purposes, this design worked best. But you may have other ideas - please share!

1 - 8½” x 11” sheet of paper
Masking Tape

Step 2: The Video

We offer optional video segments of each step for this project in the actual exhibit. Here is a compilation of all the steps.

Step 3: Step 1

Lay the piece of paper landscape (horizontal) on a flat surface. Fold the top edge of the paper to the bottom edge and unfold to create a crease.

Step 4: Step 2

Fold the top edge of the paper to the crease.

Step 5: Step 3

Fold along the crease.

Step 6: Step 4

Fold the current top edge to the bottom of the folded part of the paper (basically, fold the folded part in half).

Step 7: Step 5

Roll the paper, sliding the edge of the left side of the ring into the slot on the inside of the right side of the ring. Tape it shut along the seam.

Step 8: How to Throw It

To throw it: hold it in your hand with the thicker edge forward and toss it like a football, using your fingers to give the paper a spin as you throw it. The video shows it a little better.

The Gyro Flyer is a simplified (and much cheaper) version of the X-Zylo toy. In both cases, they use both aerodynamics and gyroscopic motion to fly. Much like a plane’s wing, the front of the Gyro Flyer is thicker than the back end. This causes the air as it flows over and through the Gyro Flyer to provide lift, or push it slightly up. The gyroscopic motion is created by the spinning of the tube. Much like a spinning top doesn’t fall over, the spinning of the tube keeps the front end aimed forward and prevents gravity from flipping it or losing its angle of attack through the air as fast as a normal paper airplane, which is why it can fly so well.

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