Another monthly program that I began offering this fall is Mad Science Monday. We had started doing a couple in the spring and I ran my extremely popular Candy Science program in the summer. Plus, we always get asked for science programs at the library, so I threw myself into it.
I wanted to start with something relatively simple and something I expected to be popular: paper airplane science. I love making paper airplanes myself (a friend and I built a paper airplane army my freshman year of college) and I knew kids loved building them, too. I took my inspiration for the science aspect from Amy's post on the ALSC blog. I started with a short presentation on the forces that make airplanes fly, giving kids the opportunity to tell me what they knew about airplanes and forces whenever possible.
After the presentation, we had about 20 minutes of building time. I had three different airplane models for them to try: the Hoop Glider, the Arrow, and the Moth. I set up a small testing area on one side of the program room, though this quickly became hard to manage. I told the kids they could make one of each or several of the same with slight modifications. A couple kids made the Hoop Glider and fell in love with it, refusing to try any of the others. It was fun to see which models the kids liked best.
After our building time, we headed outside for testing. I told the kids that everyone would get to try their favorite and then, if we had time, they could try a second plane. I kept track of each kid's name, what model they were flying, and how far it flew. They loved trying out their own planes; however, they got a little antsy after their turns and we had to play the quiet game. Our winner was an Arrow, which I think flew 27 feet. I gave her a small flying toy as a prize, but everyone had fun and kept their planes. Some of the books I'd set out checked out as well.
And that was paper airplane science! Everyone had a great time and the program was a breeze!