Kids Vs. Science: Making the Ultimate Paper Plane

Kids Vs. Science: Making the Ultimate Paper Plane


Three! Two! One! You’ve probably tried to make
a paper airplane at some point in your life and if you’re anything like me it
probably flew about three and a half feet and went straight into the ground. Well, what if you could try again but, you know, as an adult? Even better, what if you
had the decades of knowledge of a diverse team of experts? My name is
Andrew foot and I’m president of paper outlet here in New York City.
I am the paper expert. My name is Leif and I am the aerodynamics expert. I am
professor of mathematics at NYU and I study fluid dynamics mathematics and
physics. My name is Frank Ling, I’m the paper
folding expert, I work for Taro’s Origami Studio in Brooklyn, and I’ve been doing
origami for 22 years. We’re putting our team of bonafide specialists up against three awesome kids. My name is Jonah, I’m 10 years old, and when I grow
up I want to be a filmmaker. My name is Micah, I am 7, and I want to be an
astronaut My name is Nairobi, I am 10 years old and I want to be an archaeologist. We’ll see who can build the best paper airplane, but more than that, we’ll learn about the surprisingly wide breadth of expertise that goes into
making a seemingly simple piece of folded paper. This is Kids Vs. Science. I’ve been studying the aerodynamics of paper airplanes recently in order to figure out exactly what makes a paper airplane glide stably. My first thought
when I heard about making paper airplanes was, you know, something I’ve
done many times before. Pretty solid standard origami bit to
have, so I’m excited for this. My understanding would be more grain
direction and how it would fold and what stocks would be too heavy, so trying to
apply what I know about that to what would make a good paper airplane. Yes. Part of me wants to say we’ll
crush the kids, but I’ve worked with a lot of kids over the years and some of
the stuff they come up with is, you know, is quite amazing. As adults we’re
less creative we’re less open-minded. It could go either way. No, just give me some paper. Each team will be
given one hour to plan, create, and test their perfect paper airplanes. They will
then be judged on distance, hang time, and accuracy. May the best team win. I sort of
think of this as the base state, just literally a plane made out of paper. A
plane, a flat thing, and then what do we have to do to make it fly? I hope I’m
doing this right though I know for a fact that I’m not. Why is it like that? What happens to a plain piece of paper if you drop it in the air. There’s maybe an interesting thing to compare to a paper
airplane. I give it a little helping start.That guy. I mean this is a
beautiful motion, but it’s not what you want from an airplane. Right? That type of
thing. Look at all this YouTube!
Woah that’s gonna be helpful! It’s all about balance right? The most basic thing we all do right is we add a little weight in front. That basic fold there in the front is adding a little
bit of weight that’s giving it… That’s the way I was viewing it yeah. Something
that stabilizes it right? Keeps its nose pointed down as it travels through the
air if it goes up it’s gonna catch that wind. By folding it over in front here
and not here, you’re having a double layer or even more here right? So your
balance point still is forward on this thing right? Yeah. We call that the center
of mass or center of gravity. I mean you can’t just like cut a triangle out of
paper and have it work right? No, the folds are what, you’re getting a triangle shape
but what you’re getting are these folds that are weighing it, I got you. So this is what I’ve gotten so far, I’m not done yet. Guys I’m not done yet but I’m really close. That’s where the center of
gravity has to be. And if you’re too far in front or too far behind you don’t
get a good flight. What about your beautiful flyer, where is the balance
point? Right about there, it’s a little more than
1/3. Fold it, fold it over, and then fold it in half. What do you recommend? Whatever stock you want. I like the colored stuff, I know that’s not aerodynamically important but I like the
colored stuff. Pick a color we have goldenrod, blue, orchid, pink. Yeah we were spying on the other team. Don’t let them hear you! You have all of these layers on top of each other, you start to spread out a little bit up there. That’s what you have to worry about. And the only way to
combat it is… you’re always gonna have a little bit of it, but as you fold everything
over make sure that you tuck in as best you can. I saw that their airplanes are really tiny. So that the weight wouldn’t be too much! I know. I’m in the fifth grade. You’re folding all of them over on each other,
they’ll start to fan out. You can see it here. Yeah mine were failures, yeah. No I wouldn’t call it a failure. it’s just the way paper behaves, right?
It’s a material that has thickness to it, it’s gonna behave not in the way…
it’s not like working with a perfect flat plane or something. Yeah but if you use less paper, they’ll cut down less trees, which will save our lungs. In origami you call this a book fold, it’s just edge to edge. So bring the long edges together. You could use both your hands. Really make sure it’s lined up first. And
then we call it a kite fold, it’s when you’re basically folding at a 45-degree
angle off of the angle bisector. It’s never gonna exactly line up. With all
your folds, if you’re getting like 95% there you’re gonna be fine. Just throw that out, please. if this is
full and unfolded too many times, things just gonna flop open. Those
fibers are going to become weaker and weaker and weaker. Yeah you’re breaking fibers with
your finger you’re cracking them. There’s a certain point, you know, you’re not
gonna get the plane that you want. Three, two, one. My GOD. I think we’re all set! Ready to go disappoint some kids. The experts decided to all use one
design for their individual airplanes, while the kids each made their own
different plane for distance, hang time, and accuracy. I’m going first? Okay. I’m going first. And I can bend over this a little bit? I call interference! Okay, ready? Ahh, it went down! Ready? Three! Two! One! Micah won! Micah won! Micah! Everybody’s gonna count, three two one go, alright? Here we go! Three! Two! One! Go! They won. Well done. Wait, we won? We won? Congratulations, well done. Congrats, good game, good game. I kept walking into your room, going under your table and spying on you. I saw that! I saw that. Did you see it all the time? Yeah! Every single time. Our best
strategy we used was YouTube. Folding tips? Well isn’t origami all about patience? Well yeah that’s
part of it, right. It’s really taking your time, don’t rush whatever you’re doing.
Whenever you work with paper always take your time. This is my advice: have someone guarding the door at all times. You actually, I think you have
the right instinct here, this is a good, basic, 70-pound– Wait it’s 70 pounds?? I’ll do the first fold I’m making sure everything’s lined up first. I’m holding
it down. So what’s the next step? Good job make sure you crease it all the
way up, especially to the tip. Micah, are you ready? Hey guys, I’m Justin, I had so much fun
producing this video, the first in a new series. If you liked it, too, and you want to
see more episodes just like this, make sure to comment below. And if you have
any ideas for any fun activities we can have kids and experts go head-to-head
on, make sure to throw those in the comments to. Like and subscribe to stay
up-to-date with all things Mental Floss. Thanks for watching.

43 thoughts on “Kids Vs. Science: Making the Ultimate Paper Plane”

  1. This premieres in X hours is… disappointing. I thought there was something new, but no… oh well, let's hope the video is good!

  2. Adults: Bleh Bleh Bleh Technical Terms Bleh Bleh Bleh Bleh Center of Gravity.
    Kids: Look at this YouTube that's gonna be helpful.

  3. Cool idea and could be some interesting concepts. Might be fun to see a robot (maybe the Lego robot kits?) building competition. Couple of opinions: 1. get a real expert on the team…none of those people had any expertise in actually making things fly. 2. drop the premier thing. 3. I know it is video one but please don't make a habit of having 10 year old kids pushing political or social agendas on their t-shirts. Make fun videos that we can learn something from without added stuff using kids.

  4. I think you are using the word "expert" very loosely, no one in that team was more useful than a regular adult, next time get a mech engineer.

  5. These guys are all frauds. They didn't make airplanes. They made paper darts (or gliders). The difference between an airplane and a dart is that an airplane creates lift (airfoils).

    The so-called 20-year origami expert is only capable of the most basic things that anyone could learn inside 5 minutes? A 20-year origami expert should be able to create an exact replica of a Lockheed Blackbird out of paper. Check out the video "11 Levels of Origami" by Wired Magazine on Youtube to see what I'm talking about.

    They scammed the kids on the distance contest. As fully grown men, they are launching their paper darts at a greater starting height than the kids are. That means their dart gets to fall longer as it travels. Adults should also be able to put more "thrust" in their throw. The combination results in longer distance even if they threw the same paper dart.

    Lastly, there is actual GOOD research about this topic already published in a book titled "The Ultimate Paper Airplane" by Richard Kline. If you want to actually learn real stuff, read that book instead of watching this.

  6. Loved this, i really like the kids vs experts format. Would also love kids vs parents in regards to various experiments too! As far as what to try next, i'm a big fan of the popsicle building challenges.

  7. We had to make paper airplanes in 7th grade for science class we had distance and hang time i forgot my airplane grabbed a piece on the way to the gym and made the one my father always made and won for distance

  8. Incredible video, would love to see more of this! Really highlights "outside the box" thinking. I love with the little girl btw!

  9. Before you comment something nasty about the people and children in this YouTube video, please remember that it’s just a video. Relax.

  10. I know this channel has been going through some changes, but this is NOT the direction to go. I subscribed and loved Mental Floss for the random facts, and not for an eight minute video that felt like an April Fool's prank. I won't be watching any of this series going forward, but will just stick to the fact videos.

  11. is this "Kids Verse Science"?
    or "Kids VERSUS Science"?
    Those are two different words with two different pronunciations and two different spellings. they are not Homophones or Homonyms. its very simple you are spelling one word and pronoucing it as if it were another.
    stop doing that.

  12. This is a great concept and a fun video. I had a little laugh at the Adults trying super hard not to roll their eyes at each other when the others were talking. I'm looking at you beard guy! when the Paper Folding Expert was talking you can just see the mental eye roll on beaded guys face 😆

  13. This is an activity done for the "participation badge" rather than teaching anyone an n engineering process to make a winning plane. As a kid I would have found this utterly boring. No one makes a piss-ant effort to actually make or evolve or optimize a better plane. Neither the kids not the so-called "experts". Mudada.

  14. Well, Mental Floss, is been fun, and I wish you all the best going forward (especially in your partnership with Discover), but I’m out.

  15. This was hysterically funny! Hearing the conversations between the teammates was so radically different, their approach was so….typical? For each group, results were inconclusive, and completely successful!

  16. The adults team did a pretty poor job. :/ It looked like they didn't even bother to try (and adjust!) what they folded. The result of two seconds airborne time is just ridiculous. Anyone could beat that with five minutes of trial and error.

    And they ended up with three identical planes with a very basic, traditional design, even though in the very beginning of the video (0:19) they're holding a yellow plane with a very efficient design. That could win time and distance challenges.

    As another commenter here noticed, you could beat their time, distance and accuracy records with a tight ball of crumpled paper. For time and distance, throw it at 45 degrees in the open.

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