Foam Plate and Plastic Straw Gliders

By Bill Kuhl
Check out his website for a lot of great science activities!

Ideas and Inspiration

In my presentations lately I have been talking much about “ideas and inspiration”. The FPG9 foam plate glider designed by Jack Reynolds has been a huge inspiration for me to expand on the idea of quick to build gliders built primarily out of foam. I was introduced to this simple glider through the activities of the Academy of Model Aeronautics and their Aerolab program. From their inspiration I have introduced the FPG9 to other people including a local hobby shop owner Kevin Guy who has introduced the FPG9 to hundreds of young people. The Civil Air Patrol has recently partnered with the AMA and is inspiring thousands of young people with ideas in aviation.

Instead of a gradual progression of difficulty, I jumped ahead to more ambitious foam gliders: first the Foam Jet II and then the Hammer Down Catapult Glider. My thoughts lately have turned to creating gliders from only foam plates and plastic straws held together with masking tape.

Why This is a Great Activity

  • Very inexpensive and easy to find materials.
  • Most people are thrilled to build something that flies.
  • Gliders can be flown in fairly small areas indoors such as hallways, lunch rooms, theatre, or classrooms.
  • Safe to build and fly (only scissors are needed for tools).
  • Much can be learned from doing small adjustments about aerodynamic theory.
  • This can be a very creative activity.