Learn how to make a flying paper helicopter that will spin in the air. This paper helicopter experiment is great for young kids to learn about air resistance.
What kid doesn’t like paper airplanes?
Well today, we are going to take paper airplanes up a notch and make a paper helicopter! This is an awesome STEM experiment for your preschoolers or young kids because the helicopters are easy to make and fun to play with.
You may be wondering how a paper helicopter flies. For paper airplanes, you throw it and it glides through the air. For the paper helicopter, we are going to imitate a real helicopter and have spinning blades that will help the helicopter descend vertically. There is a free paper helicopter template that you can print out to easily make a working paper helicopter.
Let’s fly a paper helicopter!
How to Make a Paper Helicopter That Flies
- Paper helicopter template
1. Print out the paper helicopter template.
2. Cut along the outside border of the helicopter.
3. (Optional) Have your kid create his/her own design on the helicopter.
4. Cut along the solid black lines (be careful to leave the dotted lines alone).
5. Fold panel B along the dotted line toward the center.
6. Fold panel A along the dotted line toward the center on top of B.
7. Fold panel C along the dotted line downward.
8. Push the paper clip onto panel C and push it all the way in.
9. Fold the two rotor panels (D and E) along the dotted line so that one bends forward and the other backward. These are the blades of the helicopter.
10. Turn the helicopter so that the blades are on top. Drop the helicopter from above your head and watch it spin!
My kids loved playing with the paper helicopters so much that we made 5 of them!
Since our second floor overlooks the first floor, we were able to drop the helicopters off the second-floor landing. You can really see how much the blades spin when the helicopters descend from that height.
The Science Behind the Paper Helicopter
This is a great science project to talk to your kid about air resistance.
As the helicopter drops, air pushes up against the blades, causing the blades to slant slightly. Since there are two blades, the air pushes the blades in opposite directions. As more air pushes upward on the slanted blades, some of that thrust turns from vertical to horizontal, causing the blades to spin faster.
The paper clip adds weight to your helicopter, which helps turn your blades to a slant.
There are many different experiments you can do with your paper helicopter:
- Add an additional paper clip.
- Try dropping the helicopter without any paper clip.
- Print out the template on a heavier piece of paper (i.e. cardstock).
- Throw the helicopter upward instead of just dropping it.
- Drop the helicopter from different heights.
- Make a circle target on the floor and try and land the helicopter in the circle
Final Thoughts on the Paper Helicopter Experiment
The paper helicopter is an easy and fun activity that you can do with minimal supplies. It’s a fun way to spend a rainy day inside, but you can also take it outdoors and see how the paper helicopter flies when there is wind!
I will warn you, my kids loved flying the paper helicopters so much that we must have done it over 20 times. That’s a lot of stairs to climb! So you’re welcome for your cardio workout for the day.
For more fun STEM experiments, check out: