2020-09-22 | Chevy New Roads Magazine

DIY Science with Chevy

Quick-N-Easy Pop Can Flyer

Science takes flight with this fun project that the whole family can enjoy together.

Learning from home can be extra exciting with hands-on DIY projects. In this installment of our “DIY Science with Chevy” series, you’ll learn how airflow works to keep simple “flyers” up in the air—using the same basic principles that let airplanes soar through the sky. Experiment with different types of pop cans to see far how yours will fly! And check back soon for other DIY projects.

This series is designed for children ages 7–13. For outdoor use only. All activities should have adult supervision with proper safety precautions. We recommend always wearing gloves and safety glasses while conducting experiments.

Why You Want to Build It

Boomerangs, paper airplanes, big ol’ jet airliners—wings get all the love when we talk about flying. But there’s a lot more to flying than Bernoulli’s principle (which explains how different air pressures above and below a plane’s wings create an upward lifting force). This wingless, unpowered flyer tweaks the airflow to achieve eerily long, straight flights.

MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES

BUILDING YOUR POP CAN FLYER

STEP 1: REMOVE THE TOP. Thoroughly wash the can, then use a can opener to remove the top, leaving the rolled aluminum ring intact. Depending on your can opener, the top may come off more easily if you turn the can opener’s crank backwards.

STEP 2: MARK THE CAN FOR CUTTING. Measure 2-1/2 inches down from the can’s “shoulder,” marking this length at several points around the outside of the can.

STEP 3: CUT THE CAN TO LENGTH. Use a utility knife to carefully cut away the bottom of the can along the lines you drew in Step 2. Work slowly: You want to keep the length of the can the same all the way around and do not want to slice your fingers. Please ask an adult for help.

STEP 4: TIME FOR TAKEOFF. That’s it! To fly this craft, head outside and make sure your flight path is clear. Now hold your flyer with the can’s top forward and throw it like a football, with plenty of spin.

Want to make your pop can flyer even better? Download the full instructions and additional tips.

 

STORY: DAVID NELSON / ILLUSTRATIONS AND VIDEO: MCKIBILLO CREATIVE SERVICES

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