Hoop Gliders Galore




Introduction: Hoop Gliders Galore

I came across these hoop gliders several years ago, but I revisited them with my children when we were participating in the Tech Challenge 2016, Taking Flight. And just like the Birds of PLAY, 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.

Before you start, throw a plain straw. Does it fly well? Not really. It’s because the straw doesn’t have wings. It has nothing to generate lift. But when you add hoops, they act as wings, generating lift. And depending on where you put the hoops, your hoop glider will generate more lift or less. You experiment with sizes and locations of the hoops and decide what works best for your hoop glider.

These are quite simple to make, and they are incredibly fun to throw and watch them fly. This is a great project you can do with your children/students inexpensively. I hope you try this project and have a lot of fun.

Step 1: List of Supplies

  • Straws (different lengths and diameters)
  • Paper strips (copy paper, construction paper, cardstock, etc., whatever you have handy)
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive tape

Step 2: Cut Paper Strips

Cut the paper in 1/2" or 3/4" strips. You can experiment with other widths, but these are the widths that seemed to work best. I also have three different sizes of straws. For my convenience, I made my hoop gliders with the wider, pearl drink straws. But I had students make hoop gliders with regular straws, and they did well with the smaller diameters, too. So, it really doesn't matter too much. Again, if you have different sizes available, experiment.

Step 3: Tape Strips and Attach to Straws

These paper strips are 3/4" wide. I like this width for no other reason than that it's the width of scotch tape. So, that's the width I use, but I've seen other project instructions online with 1/2" width instructions. Tape the ends of the strips together and make circles. You can experiment with lengths, but I tend to use 3", 6", 9" and 12" strips. I don't know why. I think it's the proportions that matter, not the actual lengths.

Step 4: Gliders Galore

You can put as many or as few hoops as you want. But the minimum number is 2.

As you see, the left hoop gliders hoops are not aligned. The hoop in the back is attached in the middle, but the hoop in the front is attached to the right handside. Play with where you attach the hoops - in the middle, left side, right side, etc. Again, the goal of these projects is to have fun.

Have fun with where you put the hoops.

I made 4 hoop gliders this morning. but when I conducted this project in class, some students have made as many as 10+ gliders. So, make a lot and have fun.

Go crazy and fail spectacularly!

Step 5: How to Throw a Glider

Hold it like this. With your index finger resting on the back of the straw.

Gently throw it forward.

Step 6: Gliders in Flight

The 1st one flew the farthest, almost toward the fence & the rose bushes.

The 2nd one flew pretty straight and far.

The 3rd one was interesting to look at slow-mo, because the largest loop would swing back and forth between left and right. But it didn't fly far.

The 4th one was all over the place, but interesting to watch.

The 5th one is the 2nd glider in flight.

The 6th one is the 1st glider in flight.

For more information, please check out Kto6Science blog.

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    3 Discussions

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    2 years ago

    Fun stuff! I love all the variations you tried!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks! It's crazy how imaginative kids can be.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks! And it's so easy, too. Some students have tried squares and rectangles, too.

    Have a great day.