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The Effect of Expending Actual Time and Effort on the Success of a Science Fair Project

January 14th, 2016 (05:20 pm)

Jon Morgan received a medal at the school Science Fair awards presentation today, and learned that his project was one of the ones chosen to move on to the city science fair.

His project was about the effect of materials and size on the distance that a paper airplane will fly. To standardize the amount of force used to propel the planes, he built a paper airplane launcher out of two CDs, some wooden paint-stir sticks, and two hand-held plastic fan motors. (The design was based on the one in the link, but with some modifications.) He chose one common airplane design and made the same plane with three different thicknesses of paper and in three different sizes. Then he reserved a gym at school one afternoon, and ran 10 trials with each of the nine planes, recorded the distance flown in each, and calculated an average distance for each plane. He measured the distances flown with his dad's laser measuring device.

The judges raved about his paper airplane launcher, and I hear from an aeronautics expert who was helping with the event that he did well with the aerodynamics explanations in his paper.

My son is not The Science Kid. He hates research and would prefer to wait until the last minute and then throw something together without putting much thought into it. But after last year's Science Fair debacle, Bob and I wouldn't let him get away with that for this project, and forced him to start thinking, planning, and work on it well ahead of time. It did not always go smoothly, but once the research part finally came together, I think he actually had fun with the project. Last year, his project didn't even move beyond his own class to be accepted into the school Science Fair, so I'm pleased that he's made it to the city Science Fair at TC Williams High School this time.