Why STEAM is Important

In our busy world, more often than not, we turn to technology to entertain our children. Are you looking for ways to get your kids off their devices and involve them in different activities? Welcome to the world of STEAM education. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education is a great way to help your child make discoveries, ask questions, and solve problems! During the holiday break, White Plains Public Library held a STEAM week for grades 6-12, where kids could drop in to do STEAM activities. The last day, the activity was Paper Airplanes. While STEAM activities are science-based, they make room for curiosity, artistic expression, and imagination. The benefits of STEAM are that it encourages critical thinking, develops problems-solving skills, hands on learning, promotes teamwork, and fosters creativity.

The goal of our paper airplane activity was to connect the STEAM subjects together in order to encourage learning and problem solving:

Science – Learn about flight and conduct experiments. Read a book about flight for more information.
Technology – Use a timing device (stopwatch, cell phone) to time how long the plane flies; record a video of the planes flying to learn more about flight.
Engineering – Follow the plane designs that are given and make changes to fly better!
Art – Design the plane to be aesthetically pleasing and use different art techniques/materials.
Math – Use a ruler to help fold the plane; measure the size of the plane; measure the distance traveled.

Before starting this activity, there were a few things we needed to think about:

  • Which plane(s) do you want to build – check out the plane designs
  • Which plane will travel the farthest distance?
  • Which airplane will spend the longest time in the air?
  • Does the type of paper matter to the design of the plane and the distance it will travel?
  • What design worked best and why?

A video to watch before you begin:

There are many ways to fold paper into airplanes and each plane will have a different flight. Paper airplanes fly much like real airplanes and are affected by four forces. These forces are Thrust, Lift, Drag, and Gravity. Thrust is the forward motion of the plane, Lift is the movement of the air around the plane that keeps it in the air, Drag is the resistance to movement through the air, and finally Gravity. Gravity is the force that pulls everything back to Earth. This is a lot of information, but it is the basics for Aerodynamics. Aerodynamics is the study of the properties of moving air and the interaction between the air and solid bodies moving through it/around it. The Wright brothers used gliders in 1900 to learn about the basics of flight. You can learn these basics of flight, or aerodynamics, by making paper airplanes! Happy Flying.

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