In the Hoop Glider Engineering activity, children are able to explore being an engineer by building a hoop glider, testing it out, and making changes to their design.
This activity encourages children to create and test a prototype (ideally, an adult will help children make a glider with the ‘basic’ design to start with), to set a goal for creating a better glider, and to change one variable at a time in controlled experiments to make their glider meet that goal.
At the same time, children learn to use the tools and materials available for the activity in ways that are safe and appropriate for their age.
The hoop glider engineering activity also introduces children to the scientific concepts of gravity, lift, thrust and drag. Adults can encourage creativity in the process by restricting the types of materials that are available to children as they design their gliders.
Finally, this activity reinforces good science practices by emphasizing the importance of replicating your experiments (i.e. testing each glider multiple times to see if the glider flies the same way in every trial) and controlling variables (i.e. changing only one feature of your hoop glider design at a time).