Gyrocopters are simple designs that demonstrate air resistance. They can be made easily from a sheet of paper, which can be sent home with children (or sent electronically, if parents then have access to a printer). The only other items parents will need are some paper-clips and a pair of scissors.

  1. Cut along the solid black line between the two wings A and B. Fold wing A (along the dotted line) so that the red line faces upwards. Fold wing B (along the dotted line) so that the red line faces downwards.
  2.  Cut along the two short black lines and fold along the dotted lines, so that one side reads SCIENCE and the other side reads OPENS. Hold these folds in place with a paper clip.
  3. Get an adult to hold a gyrocopters in either hand. Tell them to stretch their arms up as far as they can.
  4. Make sure that the gyrocopters are at the same height. Tell the adult to drop them when you say “Go”.
  5. Watch to see which one reaches the ground first. Check your result by doing the test again.
  6. Make a note of which was fastest and which was slowest.
  7. Test the slowest gyrocopter against another design.
  8. Keep a record so that you can say which of the four shapes is the fastest and which is the slowest.

If you can:

  1. Find a sheet of then card, perhaps from an old cereal packet.
  2. Use your paper gyrocopters to mark out four gyrocopter shapes on the card.
  3. Cut out the shapes and test them as before.
  4. Do you get the same results? Is the same shape the slowest?

If you enjoyed this homework:

  1. Can you make a video of your adult doing the testing?!

Download version of this below

Gyrocopter template (.docx)
Gyrocopter template (.pdf)

Download the gyrocopter template

Gyrocopter Template (.docx)
Gyrocopter Template (.pdf)

Use these sentences to give an explanation of your gyrocopter investigation

As the gyrocopter falls the wings have to push air out of the way.

Because the wings are offset, they push the air out of the way in different directions

The best design for a gyrocopter is the one that reaches the ground slowest

The more the gyrocopter spins, the slower it falls through the air.

The two wings do not make a straight line – we say they are offset

This causes the gyrocopter to spin

This sort of investigation would be useful for anyone designing propellers for aeroplanes or sails for wind-turbines.

We found that design number ____ was the best.

We made the gyrocopter and folded the wings in different directions, so the red shape was only showing on one wing.

We used the same size paper clip for each gyrocopter, to make our test fair.

We weighted the gyrocopter with a paper clip.

When we let go of the gyrocopter, it falls downward because of the force of gravity.

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