The Magic School Bus Taking Flight
Ms. Frizzle's class does some flying and gliding during their adventure. With this Magic School Bus activity, your students will see how gliders coast by exploring the way different paper objects fall to the ground.
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
Field Trip Notes
Wanda and Tim are testing their remote-control plane when Ms. Frizzle decides that the class should experience flight firsthand. She shrinks several students, and they take off in the remote-control plane for the wild blue yonder. But things go haywire when the kids on the ground accidentally break the remote control. How will the kids in the air get back to school on their own? As they try to understand flight, the class discovers that the air rushing across the wings is pushing the plane up. They also learn that they need a source of power to propel the plane forward. Arnold steers the plane by its tail. Can the kids use their crash course in flight to come in for a safe landing?
Falling, Floating, Gliding
Time: 30 minutes
Group size: Four
The Frizzle's class does some flying and gliding during their adventure. Here, your students will see how gliders coast by exploring the way different paper objects fall to the ground.
What You Need
- Copies of Falling, Floating, Gliding (PDF)
- Sheets of 8- by 10-inch notebook paper
Talk About It
Ask: What are some things that glide? (hang gliders, gliders, some birds)
Ask: What is the difference between gliding and flying? (Gliding is coasting freely on the air while being pulled downward by gravity; sustained flight needs a power source for propulsion.)
What To Do
- Ask: What paper gliders does your group know how to make? Have each group make a glider, following the activity page instructions or using their own designs.
- Show students a glider, a flat sheet of paper, and a crumpled paper ball. Ask: How might shape change the way something falls? Have them record their predictions of how the three shapes will fall.
- Have three kids in each group hold the shapes above their heads and drop them at the same time. The fourth child records observations. Test three times.
- Have students thrust their gliders forward. How is this different from when they dropped the gliders? What if they thrust harder? (more air moving over and under wings)
Challenge students to make gliders glide farther (by folding them differently, cutting flaps, changing wing size, etc.).