Kids Vs. Science: Designing the Ultimate Paper Plane

Three! Two! One! You’ve probably tried to make
a paper airplane at some point in your life and if you’re anything like me it
probably flew about three and a half feet and went straight into the ground. Well, what if you could try again but, you know, as an adult? Even better, what if you
had the decades of knowledge of a diverse team of experts? My name is
Andrew foot and I’m president of paper outlet here in New York City.
I am the paper expert. My name is Leif and I am the aerodynamics expert. I am
professor of mathematics at NYU and I study fluid dynamics mathematics and
physics. My name is Frank Ling, I’m the paper
folding expert, I work for Taro’s Origami Studio in Brooklyn, and I’ve been doing
origami for 22 years. We’re putting our team of bonafide specialists up against three awesome kids. My name is Jonah, I’m 10 years old, and when I grow
up I want to be a filmmaker. My name is Micah, I am 7, and I want to be an
astronaut My name is Nairobi, I am 10 years old and I want to be an archaeologist. We’ll see who can build the best paper airplane, but more than that, we’ll learn about the surprisingly wide breadth of expertise that goes into
making a seemingly simple piece of folded paper. This is Kids Vs. Science. I’ve been studying the aerodynamics of paper airplanes recently in order to figure out exactly what makes a paper airplane glide stably. My first thought
when I heard about making paper airplanes was, you know, something I’ve
done many times before. Pretty solid standard origami bit to
have, so I’m excited for this. My understanding would be more grain
direction and how it would fold and what stocks would be too heavy, so trying to
apply what I know about that to what would make a good paper airplane. Yes. Part of me wants to say we’ll
crush the kids, but I’ve worked with a lot of kids over the years and some of
the stuff they come up with is, you know, is quite amazing. As adults we’re
less creative we’re less open-minded. It could go either way. No, just give me some paper. Each team will be
given one hour to plan, create, and test their perfect paper airplanes. They will
then be judged on distance, hang time, and accuracy. May the best team win. I sort of
think of this as the base state, just literally a plane made out of paper. A
plane, a flat thing, and then what do we have to do to make it fly? I hope I’m
doing this right though I know for a fact that I’m not. Why is it like that? What happens to a plain piece of paper if you drop it in the air. There’s maybe an interesting thing to compare to a paper
airplane. I give it a little helping start.That guy. I mean this is a
beautiful motion, but it’s not what you want from an airplane. Right? That type of
thing. Look at all this YouTube!
Woah that’s gonna be helpful! It’s all about balance right? The most basic thing we all do right is we add a little weight in front. That basic fold there in the front is adding a little
bit of weight that’s giving it… That’s the way I was viewing it yeah. Something
that stabilizes it right? Keeps its nose pointed down as it travels through the
air if it goes up it’s gonna catch that wind. By folding it over in front here
and not here, you’re having a double layer or even more here right? So your
balance point still is forward on this thing right? Yeah. We call that the center
of mass or center of gravity. I mean you can’t just like cut a triangle out of
paper and have it work right? No, the folds are what, you’re getting a triangle shape
but what you’re getting are these folds that are weighing it, I got you. So this is what I’ve gotten so far, I’m not done yet. Guys I’m not done yet but I’m really close. That’s where the center of
gravity has to be. And if you’re too far in front or too far behind you don’t
get a good flight. What about your beautiful flyer, where is the balance
point? Right about there, it’s a little more than
1/3. Fold it, fold it over, and then fold it in half. What do you recommend? Whatever stock you want. I like the colored stuff, I know that’s not aerodynamically important but I like the
colored stuff. Pick a color we have goldenrod, blue, orchid, pink. Yeah we were spying on the other team. Don’t let them hear you! You have all of these layers on top of each other, you start to spread out a little bit up there. That’s what you have to worry about. And the only way to
combat it is… you’re always gonna have a little bit of it, but as you fold everything
over make sure that you tuck in as best you can. I saw that their airplanes are really tiny. So that the weight wouldn’t be too much! I know. I’m in the fifth grade. You’re folding all of them over on each other,
they’ll start to fan out. You can see it here. Yeah mine were failures, yeah. No I wouldn’t call it a failure. it’s just the way paper behaves, right?
It’s a material that has thickness to it, it’s gonna behave not in the way…
it’s not like working with a perfect flat plane or something. Yeah but if you use less paper, they’ll cut down less trees, which will save our lungs. In origami you call this a book fold, it’s just edge to edge. So bring the long edges together. You could use both your hands. Really make sure it’s lined up first. And
then we call it a kite fold, it’s when you’re basically folding at a 45-degree
angle off of the angle bisector. It’s never gonna exactly line up. With all
your folds, if you’re getting like 95% there you’re gonna be fine. Just throw that out, please. if this is
full and unfolded too many times, things just gonna flop open. Those
fibers are going to become weaker and weaker and weaker. Yeah you’re breaking fibers with
your finger you’re cracking them. There’s a certain point, you know, you’re not
gonna get the plane that you want. Three, two, one. My GOD. I think we’re all set! Ready to go disappoint some kids. The experts decided to all use one
design for their individual airplanes, while the kids each made their own
different plane for distance, hang time, and accuracy. I’m going first? Okay. I’m going first. And I can bend over this a little bit? I call interference! Okay, ready? Ahh, it went down! Ready? Three! Two! One! Micah won! Micah won! Micah! Everybody’s gonna count, three two one go, alright? Here we go! Three! Two! One! Go! They won. Well done. Wait, we won? We won? Congratulations, well done. Congrats, good game, good game. I kept walking into your room, going under your table and spying on you. I saw that! I saw that. Did you see it all the time? Yeah! Every single time. Our best
strategy we used was YouTube. Folding tips? Well isn’t origami all about patience? Well yeah that’s
part of it, right. It’s really taking your time, don’t rush whatever you’re doing.
Whenever you work with paper always take your time. This is my advice: have someone guarding the door at all times. You actually, I think you have
the right instinct here, this is a good, basic, 70-pound– Wait it’s 70 pounds?? I’ll do the first fold I’m making sure everything’s lined up first. I’m holding
it down. So what’s the next step? Good job make sure you crease it all the
way up, especially to the tip. Micah, are you ready? Hey guys, I’m Justin, I had so much fun
producing this video, the first in a new series. If you liked it, too, and you want to
see more episodes just like this, make sure to comment below. And if you have
any ideas for any fun activities we can have kids and experts go head-to-head
on, make sure to throw those in the comments to. Like and subscribe to stay
up-to-date with all things Mental Floss. Thanks for watching.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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