Birds of PLAY

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Intro: Birds of PLAY

This was in the Make magazine a couple of years ago, and when we were participating in the Tech Challenge 2016, Taking Flight, we made these gliders to prototype (we thought using the gliders in the shape of birds would be fun at the competition) and understand the mechanics of flight.

I don’t quite remember what the instructions were except that we drew gliders in the shape of birds on a foam plate and experimented with different combination of shapes in gliders and tails.

This is a great project you can do with your children/students inexpensively. I hope you try this and have a lot of fun.

Step 1: List of Materials:

  • Foam plates
  • Paper clips
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive tape (optional)
  • Pens or Pencils

Step 2: Draw & Cut Out Your Bird

There is no perfect shape to start off. Experiment with the size and width of wings to find your best design.

I have 4 glider shapes, and they are identified with letters.

Step 3: Draw & Cut Out Your Tails

Again, there is no perfect tail shape to start off. Experiment with the size and shape of the tail to find your best design.

I have 5 different tail designs, and they are identified with numbers.

Step 4: Put Them Together & Find the Right Combination

Gliders are assembled. Ready for flight testing.

Again, with 4 different shapes and 5 different tails, you can have a lot of fun flying them and figuring out which combination works the best.

(3rd picture) I put aielerons on this right, bottom glider to see if they made any difference, but they didn't. In fact, it didn't fly as well as the one above it (which is basically the same glider design except for the aielerons).

Step 5: Let's See How They Fly!

1st video - Glider B, Tail 2 combination

2nd video - Glider D, Tail 5 combination

Hint: DON'T try to throw these. Just hold them by the tail area (without skewing the tail position) and let go gently.

If you want to see more projects and get information on science competitions, please check out

Kto6Science blog. Please note that this project was associated with my two team in Tech Challenge 2016 competition.

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