Sanity Savers, STEM Edition: Christine Darden’s Paper Jets

Presented by National Grid

Written By Dan Walsh
STEM Educator


Paper, hole puncher, rubber band 


10 minutes 

Academic Subjects:  


ETS1.A: Defining Engineering Problems- Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints)

Directions for Christine Darden’s Paper Jets:  

Christine Darden is an American mathematician, data analyst, and aeronautical engineer who devoted much of her 40-year career in aerodynamics at NASA to researching supersonic flight and sonic booms

People Focused Shareable
  1. Start by folding your paper in half.
  2. Open the piece of paper back up. Fold each half at an angle to form a triangle at the top of your paper.  
  3. Fold the top edges to the center line and then close the paper. 
  4. Fold the wings down to meet the bottom of the body. 
  5. Using a hole puncher, punch a hole at the very tip of the nose. 
  6. Pull a rubber-band through the hole. 
  7. Using both hands, hold the rubber-band from both ends. Pull one side of the rubber-band through the other. 
  8. The rubber-band should be secured to the plane. 
  9. Make sure the area is clear, using both hands, hold the back of the plane and pull the rubber-band back with your other hand. Using both hands, hold the back of the jet and the rubber-band. Once the area is clear let go of both the rubber-band and jet at the same time! Watch how fast it goes!

Christine Darden’s Paper Jet’s Vocabulary: 

Geometry– A branch of mathematics that deals with shapes, lines, and points. 
Orbit– The path of an object around particular point in space. 

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