Models of a maple seed that try to match its properties, such as weight, wing loading, wing shape, seed shape, wing curvature, and so on can help you identify and rank their importance to flight. The models shown here were cut out of 3x5 index cards. Paper clips or wire were used to add weight to the model seeds.
None of these seeds rotated very well, although the largest one rotated often enough to run some tests with. The orange dot on the wing was used to determine whether the model rotated in the same direction always, and landed with the same side up. It didn't, but I have no idea why. The smaller seeds were scored to simulate the veins found in the wing of the real seed. You can see the scoring better in the smaller picture at the right. The scores didn't seem to make any difference to the seed's ability to rotate. All things considered, the most important thing I learned was that models with heavy wing loading (the average weight per unit area of the wing) didn't work well. Why? Can you devise an experiment that proves or disproves your reason?
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