Flight Statistics

Source: Pixhere.com

Type: Investigation

Theme: Statistics

Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Learning Target: Students will analyze flight and wing data for paper airplane test flights using distributions and scatterplots.


Please complete in groups of two students. Graphs and charts can be produced in the Desmos Calculator or in a spreadsheet. Compile data into a Word document.

  1. Generate three designs for a paper airplane.
  2. Select one design and construct it.
  3. Test and make necessary modifications.
  4. Rebuild the paper airplane.
  5. Test flight and enter your flight and wing data into the classroom spreadsheet.
    1. Calculate the upper surface area of the wings. If curved, measure total flattened upper surface area.
    2. During three test flights measure radial distance from launch point. Select longest flight distance (not average).
    3. Flight time. Select longest flight duration (not average).
  6. After all flight data has been entered into the classroom spreadsheet by each group, analyze the data.
    1. Calculate the mean distance.
    2. Calculate the mean flight duration.
    3. Compare flight distance to wing area. (High school students should create a scatterplot. Regress data if appropriate.)
    4. Compare flight time to wing area. (High school students should create a scatterplot. Regress data if appropriate.)
    5. Build data distribution charts on flight distance.
      1. Middle school students create histogram or dot plot. Determine if your airplane is in the first, second, third or fourth quartile.
      2. High school students use the mean and standard deviation of the data set to fit it to a normal distribution curve and to estimate population percentages. As a percentage, how did your airplane design perform?
  7. Write a one paragraph summary of how your plane performed compared to the classroom flights and airplane designs.


Exit Ticket
CCSS Math Practice
  • I can reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
  • Systems and System Models
  • Structure and Function