BioMimicry + Physics – Glider Project
This project was designed to incorporate bio-mimicry into the physics classroom. Prior to the project, students spent some time sketching natural specimens (plant and animal) borrowed from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s education department with the goal of investigating different modes of flight and gliding in nature.
They were then randomly given one animal and one plant from which to design their gliders (a free, online spinner was programmed for this selection process). Students were challenged to design and build a glider inspired by BOTH models with the goal of achieving the longest timed glide. Glides consisted of an 80-foot vertical drop, timed with a stopwatch.
Materials were very basic and affordable (e.g., tissue paper, saran wrap, straws, spaghetti) and challenged students to consider weight, surface area, and glide mechanisms in their designs.
Some of the students' gliders. Each gave very different and interesting glides (e.g., spinning, swaying).