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Rubberband Helicopter

Activity Supplies

  • Wooden craft stick
  • Paper clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Cardstock
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors

Specialty Supplies

  • 6-inch hook nose propeller

Activity Steps

  1. Fit the propeller onto the end of the craft stick.
  2. Bend and attach the paperclip to the end of the craft stick using masking tape. Hold the paperclip flat against the craft stick with the tip of the thumb, then tightly wrap a piece of masking tape around it.
  3. T he paper cutout is crucial; it's what makes the copter work. If it's too small, then it won't create enough lateral drag, and too much of the energy in the rubber band will be diverted to the craft stick. If the cutout  is too large, it'll simply be too heavy.
  4. Cutouts that are about 1.5" by 7" made from cardstock work really well. You can add flavor to this project by creating templates for the students to trace, like a helicopter silhouette. 
  5. Attach the cutout on the opposite side of the exposed paperclip - this will help ensure that the rubber band won't rub against it.
  6. Attach two rubber bands onto the propeller hook and the paperclip.

Flying the helicopter

  1. The helicopter must be wound up enough. The number of turns will be different depending upon what brand of rubber band you use. 
  2. Twist the rubber band until it becomes completely coiled and keep going. You'll notice that the rubber band begins to form a second set of twists that are bulkier - if you fill up the whole length of the rubber band with a double-twisted rubber band, then it probably has enough energy.
  3. To fly, hold the top of the propeller with one hand and the bottom of the craft stick near the paperclip with the other hand. For a stable and high-reaching flight, you must let go of the top first and then the bottom within half of a second of each other. This can be difficult for young students to coordinate, so tell them to verbally say "tick tock." As they say the words "tick tock," they should respectively let go of the top and bottom of the helicopter. 

Official Lesson Plan