Project 3X5

By John Anderson

Project 3X5 is a unique approach to educational aerodynamics-using simple 3"X5" index cards to create interesting, good flying paper gliders. Even very young student(s) can quickly explore a variety of basic principles including: shape and proportion, angles and balance, and stability and control-at a very low cost, in almost no time, with minimal effort. The hands-on learning is fun, and results in make-and-take projects which can be decorated as desired, thus a complete STEM experience. The 3X5 glider designs can be as simple as an uncut card, bent along its width or length to the proper angles and balanced with a suitable paper clip. A series of subsequent variations on the rectangular theme, can rapidly be tried with various minimal cuts and bends. Increasingly sophisticated shapes and multiple part assemblies can be quickly created, tested, and enjoyed.

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This process can be accompanied by appropriate levels of instruction, including a review of principles, how-to demonstrations, formulation of a hypothesis, flight testing, observations, and conclusions. This process can also include design sketching (especially 3-view) and graphic, written, and verbal presentations. Moreover, a variety of competitions can easily be held-including a 3X5 event as a creative new part of Science Olympiad. Categories may include distance, duration, spot landings, innovation/design, etc. Class time for building and flying can be as little as 2-3 minutes. The only required supplies are index cards, tape, and paper clips (regular and jumbo). Scissors are required for designs needing to be cut to shape. The 3X5 format leads directly to 8-12X11" index stock and/or sheet foam models (gliders, rubber-powered & electric-motor powered.) Material storage is very compact, desktops are sufficient work space, waste is minimal, cleanup is fast and easy. Flying space can be as small as about 10'X15'-over desks if needed.

Watch an interview with the program's creator, John Anderson!


For questions about the 3X5 Project, contact