Making something that moves and floats on its own is powerful. Perfecting a design is even more powerful. This activity blends the power of pattern with the practice of prototyping.
The basic premise is that a strip of paper can be fashioned in a helicopter. The top half becomes the propeller. Before the fashioning of the floating device, the whole project is decorated with a pattern. While a pattern isn’t a necessity, when in whirling movement, there can be some magic there.
Once decorated, the tool is cut at the propeller end and also at the midpoint. The lower half of the strip is weighted slightly with a paper clip. Finally, the fun part…give the paper a toss. You have your first helicopter.
But this is just the beginning. Try out different lengths of propellers (i.e. playing the proportion of propellers and body.) Try trimming the propellers to be slightly rounded. Try a slightly wider strip of paper, and then a narrower one. Which amendments create a smoother flight? Which ones seem to have little effect on the helicopter trajectory?
This is a very easy project. There were very few challenges. Smaller helicopters, i.e. those between 6-8 inches, seem to be particularly successful. For these, use small paper clips.