Take-off, Target, Touch-down

STEM Challenges are terrific ways to help teach students about science, technology, engineering and maths, while building self-management, social skills and problem solving.

‘Take-off, Target, Touch-down’ was one of our STEM challenges. Students, working in pairs, had to launch a paper plane and land it on a landing platform.

Design Brief

Students had to fold paper to create their own paper plane. They could follow the video tutorial or try their own design. A process of make and test soon emerged as students realised different paper plane designs could fly better than other designs. Some students noticed that some plane designs were great for twisting and turning while other designs flew straight and smooth.


The landing platform (a hoop) was placed 3 meters from the launching pad (a chair). The task was to land your plane in the hoop.





As students attempted make their plane touch down on the landing platform there was lots of discussion about how to launch a plane; the take-off. Finger and hand holding position became a hot topic. Arm launching speed also became a significant part of the take-off.




Landing a paper plane in the hoop was achieved by most of the students. There was joy, relief and the odd surprise from students when their planes touched-down on the landing platform.



Throughout this challenge students needed to discuss and compromise with their partner on how to build and fly their paper plane. They needed to stay focused and on task. They needed to think critically and creatively to solve problems. They needed to persevere if they wanted to complete the challenge.



Keywords: STEM

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