Whether watching a jet plane race across the sky, a paper airplane zoom through a room, or a bird soar overhead, children are fascinated by objects in motion and flight. The Copter Engineering activity presents children with an opportunity to explore two contributing factors to flight: air resistance and push. Although air is all around us, it can be difficult for young children to understand what is air and how it works, since air is invisible to the eye. By watching the copters spiral downward, children can see the affects of air on a spinning helicopter-like object.
The Discovery Center’s Copter Engineering activity teaches children about the engineering design process, the scientific method, tool use, and the scientific concepts of air resistance and push. Children are encouraged to be creative as they use paper, scissors, and paper clips to create and test a prototype, set a goal for creating a better copter, and change one variable at a time. Through testing in controlled experiments, children are challenged to make a copter that will meet their own goal.