News Good News Pint-size pilots push the envelope with paper planes

Pint-size pilots push the envelope with paper planes

A paper-plane pilot launches his design on a floor littered with rivals' best efforts. ABC / Nadia Daly
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There are few activities that can tempt school children to put down their phones, but a paper plane competition in Sydney seems to be one of them.

Dozens of school children crafted their best paper aircraft for the New South Wales Paper Planes Challenge at Sydney University, which aims to make science fun and accessible for school children

“It’s all about STEM [Science Technology Engineering Maths] engagement and letting kids feel that science is all around them and it is part of every type of fun they do,” Ann Hanna, a science teacher who is also on the Young Scientists Committee which runs the event, said.

“They’re investigating and learning about controlled variables in a way that’s not confronting to them — they don’t realise just how much science they’re doing.”

Parker McCulloch, 10, just missed out on a medal.

“I wasn’t that nervous coming in to this,” he said. “I knew I’d have some tough competition but I reckon I would have got about fourth.

“My qualifying throw I reckon was perfect.”

To qualify the children need to meet minimum requirements for distance or air time and can only use one A4 piece of paper.

“In either case they’re expert paper pilots,” Ms Hanna said.

Three medallists are chosen for airtime and distance in each of the six different competitions, which are organised by age group

The Australian record holder is nine-year-old Nick Holland, who threw his paper aircraft 35 metres in last year’s competition.

The secret to a good paper plane is all in the wings, Ms Hanna said.

“If you want a plane to travel further you want a very streamlined looking aeroplane that’s going to cut through the drag, usually very pointy, perfected edges.”

“Whereas when you want it to stay aloft longer it has broader wings to make the most of the lift from the air.”