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Table of Contents

  1. Lesson Overview
  2. Hypertext Outline of Lesson
  3. Objectives
  4. Time Allotment
  5. NCTM Process Standards
  6. NCTM Content Standards
  7. Aeronautics Content
  8. Prerequisite Skills
  9. Vocabulary
  10. Materials
  11. Teacher Tips
  12. Additional Activities
  13. Accessibility

I. Lesson Overview

In the Experimental Department, students are introduced to the process of design testing and evaluation, statistics and data analysis by gathering information about the flights of paper airplanes. Several test flights of a plane are completed and the data is analyzed by finding the range, mean and median of the data. Design changes may be implemented based on the data analysis. Information and values from other sets of data are also displayed in different graphical formats for interpretation.

II. Hypertext Outline of Lesson

This purpose of this outline is to help you navigate to specific parts of the lesson without having to go through every page. The section titles link to the first pages of that section, and the numbers in parentheses refer to the page number where that section starts.

III. Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will:

IV. Time Allotment

30-40 minutes depending on student's reading ability.

V. NCTM Process Standards

Standard 1: Mathematics as Problem Solving

Standard 2: Mathematics as Communication

Standard 3: Mathematics as Reasoning

Standard 4: Mathematical Connections

VI. NCTM Content Standards

Standard 5: Number and Number Relationships

Standard 6: Number Systems and Number Theory

Standard 7: Computation and Estimation

Standard 8: Patterns and Functions

Standard 9: Algebra

Standard 10: Statistics

Standard 13: Measurement

VII. Aeronautics Content

VIII. Prerequisite Skills

IX. Vocabulary

X. Materials

For helping with calculations:

For Straw Glider:

XI. Teacher Tips

This lesson can be completed individually but will move faster and be more fun if two or more people work together. The lesson can be done in under half an hour if the students are good readers and have a calculator to assist with computations. Pair up students if someone is unable to hold or manipulate objects. Students who are unable to write can provide verbal input on project or make choices during activity.

XII. Additional Activities

1. Using the Straw Glider model provided, student can create and conduct their own test flights, gathering and analyzing the data. This can be done induvidually, or in groups. Based on their initial results, have students modify their Straw Gliders by changing the fuselage length, wingspan, or tail size. Then, re-test the glider and compare these results from the original results. What has changed? How might different modifications affect flight?

2. Repeat the above mentioned experiment with each student group creating and testing a different paper airplane. As a whole class, analyze the results from each of the different ariplanes and draw conclusions about patterns, differences and functions of the various parts of the planes.

3. Gather data from other sources (i.e. school sporting events, elections) and analyze them using mean, median and range. What conclusions can you draw from using this kind of data analysis?

4. Have students gather data on each other or on their family members. Be creative and try think of other categories in addition to age, height, weight, etc. What can you find out about your class by analyzing this data?

Do you have ideas for other activities to use with this activity? Send your suggestions to us at

XIII. Accessibility

All the pages maintain a consistent grid of 6 buttons along the bottom of the page, which should be accessible through a ClickIt! overlay for IntelliKeys. For more information on using assistive technology, please refer to the document "Making PlaneMath Accessible" on the main PlaneMath parent/teacher page.

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