Straw Glider




A wonderful alternative for those who don't have the skill or patience to fold paper airplanes. The Straw Glider is simply two strips of paper, a straw and some tape. Together they can fly over forty feet.

As a teacher I advocate using these to teach measurement, the scientific method, and following directions.

I hope you enjoy my first Instructable.

Step 1: What Is the Straw Glider? and What You Need to Make This.

I first learned about the straw glider from this site: after I had watched a ted video by Arvind Gupta:

Therefore I cannot claim that the idea is all mine. However, I do take some credit for using the idea as a teaching idea. In the classroom 2nd grade (age 7) - 12th grade (Age 18) I believe a number of students can benefit from using these. Either to learn basic measurement, proportions, or to understand the importance of aerodynamics.

I have tried hundreds of materials such as big straws (7-11 Slurpee Straws, all the way down to coffee stirrer straws, and a litany of different kinds of paper.

Here is what you need:

A ruler with centimeters


Scotch Tape

Common Copy Paper

A standard straw (non bendy, these have never worked well for me.) The ones I use are just under 20 centimeters

Step 2: Making the Paper Loops

Alright, now that we have what we need, we can construct our loops.

We need two paper loops. One is 16 x 2 cm the other is 10 x 2 cm.

I measure and cut a lot of these ahead of time, because I take them to family dinners with my nephews.

On my paper I can get enough strips of paper for 10 straw gliders.

Once you have the two strips cut as they look above you can form them into your loops.

For each loop, cut no more than 3.5 centimeters of scotch tape. This is important, because too much tape weighs the glider down.

You then fasten each piece of paper into a loop as shown above, they will not be perfectly round but you can manipulate them enough to be more circular.

Step 3: Completing the Straw Glider

Once you have your two loops you can then fasten each loop to opposite ends of the straw with scotch tape (again be mindful of how much you use).

I recommend taping your straw to the inside of the loop.

Finally, you can toss your straw glider. I've done hundreds (maybe thousands) of these and have gotten them over 40 feet, when thrown indoors.

If you throw outside, make sure you throw up and into the wind and it can take it a long ways. (This takes a lot of skill and practice)

Step 4: Document What Happens and Make Changes

As I have said before I have used plenty of different materials. If you're curious enough I recommend you try phone book paper and construction paper, both have different results. As do big and small straws, or try skewers?

I've also changed the size of the paper strips, widening and lengthening them, but 10x2 cm and 16x2 cm seems to work the best.

It's fun to learn basic science this way, and asking kids why it worked better one way than the other.

For best results I go with common copy paper (though I've had the same success with laminated copy paper, because it makes for easy loops), and standard drinking straws.

I've also experimented with putting third, fourth and fifth loops in the middle of the straw, but have never had much success.

Launch It! Contest

Participated in the
Launch It! Contest



    • Pets Challenge

      Pets Challenge
    • Frozen Treats Challenge

      Frozen Treats Challenge
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest

    9 Discussions


    5 years ago

    Nice Ible! I made these when I was 11. I found that the heavier the paper, the more surface area was needed to keep it aloft. Making it out of cardstock, consequently throws like a dart. Making it out of notebook paper will make it glide. And i have never tried a skewer but I think it would work well with cardstock in larger circumfrence and width.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    It really is a study of proportions and how changing them affects the flight. I made some with long 7-11 slurpee straws and they throw like a dart. Using different materials is one of the best things about this project.

    I'm currently tinkering with some 1/2 inch pvc pipe and sheet metal, but no luck yet on getting it to glide.

    john mantova

    5 years ago on Step 4

    Have you tried two or three loops at front two booms to single loop at rear using balsa you can do one in hexagons. Even make a nacelle and pop an engine on it. Obviously bigger than what you do now. sorry no pics.

    2 replies
    john mantovajohn mantova

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 4

    Ref last post stub wings may be required half way up loops at front or the corners of the hexagons Just had a thought copy paper ring about 3" dia about 5" long wrap one end with sticky clear tape. You have to experiment for best results but two turns for a start will do. Throw like an American football with a spiral twist. Takes practice but the record distance is about 400 feet.