How to Host a Paper Airplane Competition

Kids throwing paper airplanes for a STEM competition

Do your students wonder how airplanes fly? Do they ask you how airplanes take off? If so, then aerodynamics is a great area of STEM for your students to explore. In this article we will show you the step-by-step process to host a motorized paper airplane throw-off! Challenge them to design a paper airplane that can fly the furthest or the highest! Or maybe try some loops and barrels?

 Materials:POWERUP 2.0 Paper Airplane Materials

  • Assorted printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue
  • (additional) Three AA batteries
  • (additional) POWERUP 2.0

1. Preparation

  • Go over the rules of the competition, what are students competing on the basis of? Furthest flight, coolest tricks, most interesting design? Is there a required size of the paper? How many cuts are they allowed to make?
  • Incorporate the principles of aerodynamics into the activity. How can weight, lift, thrust, and drag be used to create the fastest or furthest flying paper airplane?

    2. Design the paper airplanePOWERUP 2.0 Paper Airplane with POWERUP Book

      • Which paper airplane fold can fly the furthest?
      • Offer your students a booklet of paper airplane designs but encourage them to create their own. In our POWERUP Paper Airplane book we have over 10 paper airplane designs that can fly with and without our modules. 
      • Make sure each student is using the materials provided and occasionally ask them what principle of aerodynamics they're using when cutting or folding a certain way. 

        3. (additional) Show them how their POWERUP 2.0 works

          • Using POWERUP 2.0 is very simple, but be sure to explain the science behind how it works! For example, how our motors and propellers give each planethrust. 
          • In order to use a POWERUP 2.0, you will need AA batteries! Instructions on how to charge and fly your paper plane are inside the box.

          4. Test the planes!

            • Before you begin the competition, allow your students to test their three paper planes to see which one is the best!
            • Analyze why some didn't fly far and why others did. What are some key parts on the paper plane that allowed some to be more effective. 

            5. Competition time!

              • Once your students have chosen their best plane, begin the competition! Now remember, what are the rules? What are they begin graded on? Make sure to include an assortment of prizes to keep the spirits high.

              What did we learn?

                • Take time after the competition to give each student an opportunity to display their plane and discuss their design. Was there a missing piece that could have made it go further? 


                As fun as a game, as challenging as a puzzle; POWERUP 2.0 is a STEM toy that drives kids to think creatively and logically. With a multitude of templates and assortment of accessories, our POWERUP products are designed to be used over and over again. If your students want the next level up from the 2.0, take a look at our POWERUP 4.0 paper plane module that can be controlled from your smartphone!