Hoop Glider

Introduction: Hoop Glider

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 ...

A twist on the paper plane that uses rings for wings!

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.

This project is a creation by the Children's Museum of Houston staff, but does resemble similar projects like the Huffin' Hoopster   Instructable created by Kiteman. 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 - 8.5” x 11” Sheet of paper
  • 1 – Drinking Straw
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Pencil

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 - Long Strip

Measure 1 inch from the long side along each of the short sides and draw a line across. Cut out the strip of paper.

Step 4: Step 2 - Short Strip

Measure 5 inches from one corner along the long side. Then measure 1 inch from the long side along the short side and from the point you made earlier. Draw lines to connect the three dots. Cut out the second strip so you have two strips of paper: one big and one small.

Step 5: Step 3 - the Hoops

For each paper strip, curl the ends to make a hoop and tape together.

Step 6: Step 4 - Putting It Together

Tape the small hoop to one end of straw with an open side parallel with the straw opening. Tape the big hoop to the opposite end of the straw but lined up with the small hoop. The more centered the two are, the better.

Step 7: The Launch

To use, hold the Hoop Glider in the middle of the straw with the small hoop in front. Throw it gently like a dart. Remember that we do not endorse the throwing of these at pets, siblings, or coworkers, no matter how funny it is. We don't want anyone to lose an eye. :-)

If you are doing this in an educational setting, a simple explanation for how they work is that the paper hoops on the Hoop Glider act like wings. The shape of the hoops allows the air flowing around them to create lift, a force that pushes the glider up. The force you give by throwing it, called thrust, allows the air to flow around the hoops, creating the lift for the glider.

The next step I would suggest is, after they build and test this one, letting kids design and test their own to compare:
  • What if different sized strips are used?
  • What if different width strips are used?
  • What if different kinds of paper are used?
  • What if the hoops are placed differently?
  • What if more hoops are used?
  • What if different types of straws are used?
All these and more are great ideas to explore!

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    6 Discussions


    4 months ago

    Using an index card makes a lot easier.


    3 years ago

    Great project, takes some tweeking at first, but it flies.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I hate how they take safety so seriously in the USA. Don't you?


    Reply 3 years ago



    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, I do too. In Russia, where I'm from, it's exactly the opposite.