Paper Airplane World Record

Former Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob sets world distance record for throwing a paper airplane. I saw this during SportsCenter and I instantly started thinking about all the learning and fun that could be generated with this video clip. The STEM teacher in me just loves this sort of thing.


Educational Connections

Use friendly competition as a motivational strategy and challenge teams of learners to design the paper airplane that will travel the greatest distance. We are seeing greater emphasis placed on design and engineering in STEM areas on a number of fronts (Common Core Standards, recent grant RFPs, etc.). This would be a way to provide students with practical experience with design, project management, and more.

Consider cranking the discovery learning up a notch by providing non-traditional materials available, too. Will an airplane made of an entire sheet of newspaper travel a greater distance? Does the addition of paperclips to a plane’s design impact results?

Think way outside the box and challenge teams to work together using only non-verbal communication. This can really spice things up and promote creativity and higher-order thinking. My students always enjoy this and usually astound me with their creative communication strategies.

Let’s not overlook some of the more traditional connections. This can be an organic way to provide students with practice with measurement using both standard and non-standards units. This could be coupled with data collection, data anlaysis and the presentation of results through graphs and tables.

Those are just a few connections. Please share your ideas in the comments.

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

2 thoughts on “Paper Airplane World Record”

  1. I really like your idea Dr. Mims! It’s sort of like a soap box derby.

    If I taught middle school science, this is definitely something I would consider. I was thinking the students could also use science to determine which type of paper works best when they build their paper airplanes. This is the type of project that you really let kids experiment with on their own.

    Students could also learn about the weather and how much the wind could affect the distance their planes traveled.

  2. The video has been removed from YouTube, but I found a similar video at

    This kind of web content can be as motivational tools, attention grabbers, and to add a cool factor to education. Student interested in sports as well as those who have competitive spirits would perk up and become more attentive after viewing this clip, wondering how it relates to their lesson. Even when mostly traditional classroom supplies and tools are available, like paper and pencils, the integration of just a small piece of technology, such as sharing this video clip, can make all the difference in a student’s experience and attitude towards learning.

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