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Picture of Design to Fly: Balsa Gliders

Use basic materials like pencils, paper, scissors, ruler, etc. (and maybe some high-tech tools!) to design and test your own balsa glider. Use the files provided to cut a glider body on a laser cutter, plotter or even a blade. Now, experiment with wing size, shape, and curvature either on paper or with your favorite design software. When you've found a design that works best for you, cut the paper with scissors or your favorite cutting tool. Experiment with pennies to determine the effect of added weight in various amounts and positions on your glider. Try your designs by throwing your glider and measure how far it flies...improve upon your designs after each trial!

*This activity is aligned with the Girl Scouts Fling Flyer Design Challenge badge. Please refer to Girls Scouts badge booklet and Volunteer Toolkit for complete badge requirements.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need:

  • A sheet of 1/8 inch thick balsa wood (at least nine inches long and four inches wide for each glider body you want to cut)
  • Several pieces of card stock (at least 60 lb)
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • tape (masking tape works great)
  • pennies
  • tape measure
  • box cutter or xacto blade (optional)
Toga_Dan1 year ago
Alex 2Q1 year ago
I would try the term cutting mat when looking on amazon etc.

Why not cut the fuselage in card instead of expensive balsa?

Fun! I would enjoy trying out different wings on it :)