Museum of Science, Boston

Hoop Glider Engineering at Different Ages

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Contact the Discovery Center and Living Lab staff at livinglab@mos.org

Hoop Glider Engineering: Older Children & Adults



Hoop Glider Engineering can be a fun science activity for people of all ages. We provide these generalizations as guidelines about what children at different ages might do during Hoop Glider explorations at the Discovery Center’s Experiment Station, at home in your living room, or at school. Listed below are science and technology process skills that children may be practicing during their explorations. Please remember: each child develops at a different rate, so some children in each age group may be able to do some of the things described in the age group before or after their own.

How might older children explore Hoop Glider Engineering?

Make your own Hoop Glider - Older Children & Adults

We always encourage adults to make their own hoop glider and experiment with it!

Cross-generational experimenting can be a great way to involve both adults and children in the scientific process.

Scaffold - Older Children & Adults

Adults can help young children get the most of this activity by assisting children as they make their own hoop glider, instead of making a hoop glider for them. Children will benefit most from the hoop glider engineering activity when they are allowed to complete as many of the steps toward making the glider as possible.

Adults can also play a vital role in helping children pause to consider the hoop gliders and experiments they design.

Ways to help:

  • Ask children to identify some similarities and differences between two hoop gliders (i.e.: straw length, wing shape, number of wings, etc.) .
  • Help children to cut and shape the paper wings (perhaps holding the paper for the child while s/he attaches the paper-clip, or helping them fold the paper in a way that creates a triangular – or other shaped- “loop”).
  • Help children with paper-clipping. If a child is just learning how to use a paper clip, have the child hold the paper and watch while you add the clip. An older child or adult can also offer to hold the paper for the child while s/he maneuvers the paper clip. It is important for us adults to remember that it is more beneficial for a child to observe us using a paper-clip, and then copy our actions, than for an adult to attach the paper-clip, thereby leaving the child out of this part of the activity. Even very young children are often able to learn how to use a paper clip if an adult demonstrates, and then removes the paper clip so that the child can try it too.
  • Encourage children to complete multiple tests (have them throw each hoop glide more than once, before changing the design)
  • Offer children challenges to try:
    • Can you make your hoop glider fly farther?

    • Can you make a glider that lands smoothly (rather than crashing)?