Cut Paper Models

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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