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Right Flying
An Online Collaborative Project

The Design Problem

Introduction to the Project

Our class has joined with other classes from around the world to collaborate on an aeronautical design problem. While experimenting with flight, the Wright Brothers in the early 1900s ran into difficulties. Some of their early airplane designs did not achieve the maximum lift and minimum drag or the best control during flight. They would often times have to "go back to the drawing board" and re-think their design.

Just like the Wright Brothers, you and your class will need to re-think an airplane design. In order to do this, you will need to learn a little more about aeronautics. For starters, you will need to know some of the things listed below:

  • the four forces that act on an airplane;
  • the parts of an airplane;
  • how an airplane flies;
  • aspect ratio and wings;
  • center of gravity;
  • airflow.

The Design Problem

Your teacher will give you a template for a glider. This glider, however, needs to be re-designed so that it will fly the farthest distance possible with the most stable flight. After you build and test this glider, you will see that it definitely needs some modifications (or changes) to make it fly better. You and your classmates will have to determine what those changes should be. When making those changes, you must follow the guidelines below:

  • You cannot change the length and width (the size) of the fuselage.
  • You are allowed to change the size of the wings as well as where they are attached to the fuselage. (In other words, move the wings closer to the nose of the airplane or closer to the tail of the airplane.)
  • For Level II Only You are allowed to change the size and shape of the tail section.

Other Things to Think About

1. We need to standardize how each glider will be launched in order to ensure that all participating classes can replicate each other's tests.
2. You need to do some research to understand enough about aeronautics to solve this problem. (The Wright Brothers also did research before they flew gliders.)
3. You need to develop a process for testing your aeronautical theories on your model. You should come up with a step-by-step process that students in other classrooms can replicate. (Hint: You could start with the scientific method!)


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