I just got home from taking a plane across the country and I’m still amazed (as I am every time) that something so huge, so heavy can get off the ground. I understand the science behind it but it still seems impossible every time I see a jumbo jet just sitting there on the runway.
Plus it isn’t just airplanes that get airborne. Some animals can do it while others manage to glide through the air. Amazing.
So how do they do it? Well it’s all about air pressure as Bill Nye explains in his video on Flight (I’ve included my Bill Nye Flight worksheet as well as a YouTube video link free of charge HERE). If the pressure below the wings is higher than the pressure above them, the plane goes up. If the plane is being pushed forward (thrust) by it’s engines with a greater force than than the force which is holding it back (drag), it will move forward. Planes utilize this forward motion to generate the difference in air pressure needed to get the plane off the ground (create lift). Gravity acts downwards and so you need to generate enough lift to overcome it. Again, this comes down to air pressure difference.
I have an inquiry lab on TpT (free) that you might be interested in. Very student-centred and inquiry based. Plus it helps them see some flight dynamics at work. Paper Airplane Scientific Method Lab
Congratulations, you now have a basic idea about flight. Interested to learn more? Want to incorporate some really cool activities into your classroom? I’ve created an entire unit on Flight which includes lessons on:
The History and Future of Flight
How Planes and Other Aircraft Fly
How Living Things Fly
The Properties of Air
Clicking any of the links will take you to the resource. However, if you want to say yourself some money, you could check out the entire unit BY CLICKING HERE.