This page contains information to help teachers and parents use this activity in class or at home. To return to the activity, click the button on the top right corner of the page.

- Lesson Overview
- Hypertext Outline of Lesson
- Objectives
- Time Allotment
- NCTM Process Standards
- NCTM Content Standards
- Aeronautics Content
- Prerequisite Skills
- Vocabulary
- Materials
- Teacher Tips
- Additional Activities
- Accessibility

The Forces of Flight Department explains and demonstrates the four forces of flight-- lift, drag, thrust and weight--and how these forces interact when a plane flies. Within each force explanation, students interact by answering questions and participating in suggested hands-on activities relating to that force. At the end of the lesson, students participate in two interactive activities. In the first, students learn what a wind tunnel is and how it works. They are then able to place different planes and objects in the wind tunnel and see the accompanying lift and drag values created by the simulated flight. In the second activity, students interpret a bar graph depicting the amount of each force in relation to each other and choose the correct plane movement (going up, going down, level flight, etc.) represented by those forces.

This purpose of this outline is to help you navigate to specific parts of the lesson without having to go through every page. The section titles link to the first pages of that section, and the numbers in parentheses refer to the page number where that section starts.

- Lift (3)
- Direct Relationships (7)
- Paper Blowing Activity (12)
- Weight (13)
- Thrust (18)
- Drag (23)
- Paper Dropping Activity (26)
- Test Your Knowledge - Drag and Thrust (29)
- Let's Review - Lift and weight, thrust and drag (33)
- Test Your Knowledge - Lift and Weight (35)
- Let's Review - All Four Forces (39)
- Wind Tunnel (43)
- Fun With Forces! (47)

At the end of this lesson, students will:

- Be able to define each of the four forces of flight and their relationship to one another.
- Understand and be able to describe the relationship between air speed and lift.
- Understand and be able to describe the relationship between air pressure and air speed on a plane's wing (Bernoulli's Principle).
- Understand how lift is created with a kite.
- Understand the concepts of streamlined and aerodynamic.
- Understand how each of the four forces interact with one another by participating in simple experiments.
- Be able to explain what a wind tunnel is and how it is used.
- Read and interpret line and bar graphs.
- Be able to describe a direct relationship and an inverse relationship.

45-70 minutes for entire activity, depending on reading level of students in group.

Standard 1: Mathematics as Problem Solving

- Use problem solving approaches to investigate and understand mathematical content.
- Verify and interpret given results and generalize solutions and strategies to a new problem.
Standard 2: Mathematics as Communication

- Interpret and evaluate mathematical ideas presented in written and visual forms.
- Discuss mathematical ideas and make convincing arguments.
Standard 3: Mathematics as Reasoning

- Understand and apply reasoning with graphs.
- Make and evaluate mathematical arguments.
Standard 4: Mathematical Connections

- Explore problems and describe results using graphical, physical and verbal math models.
- Apply mathematics to solve problems in science.
- Recognize the value of math in an applied technical situation

Standard 5: Number and Number Relationships

- Recognize numerical relationships represented in two dimensions graphs.
Standard 8: Patterns and Functions

- Describe and represent relationships with graphs and rules.
- Analyze functional relationships to explain how a change in one quantity results in a change in another.
Standard 9: Algebra

- Represent situations and number patterns with graphs, verbal rules and explore the interrelationships of these representations.
- Analyze graphs to identify relationships.
Standard 10: Statistics

- Read and interpret graphs.

- Why Planes Fly
- Four forces of flight: lift, weight, drag, thrust
- Definition and use of a wind tunnel

- Students should have covered "Lift Off", one of the PlaneMath activities in Applying Flying.
- Students need to understand what a force is--Pressure needed to move an object.
- Students should have some basic knowledge of graphs and tables and how to interpret them.
- Students should have a basic idea of what air pressure and air speed are.

Vocabulary words are linked to the activity pages on which they're defined.

- lift
- air pressure
- direct relationship
- inverse relationship
- weight
- gravity
- thrust
- drag
- streamlined
- bulky
- aerodynamic
- cruising (or level flight)
- wind tunnel

For the Paper Blowing Activity:

- Strip of paper--4" x 11"
- Book
- Hair dryer, electric control unit and switch (if person is unable to blow air)

For the Paper Dropping Activity:

- 2 pieces of paper, one flat and one crumpled

This lesson can be completed individually but will move faster and be more fun if two or more people work together. The lesson can be done in under an hour if the students are good readers. There are several good breaking places in this lesson--after either of the four forces descriptions or at the beginning of the ending activities.

Pair up students if someone is unable to hold or manipulate objects. Use a blow drier hooked up to a switch if a student is unable to sustain a blow in the hands-on activity for lift. The crumpled/flat paper hands-on activity for drag can be adapted by assisting the individual to push items off their wheelchair tray or a table.

1. Use paper airplanes of different sizes, different weights and with "tails" attached (provides increased drag) to demonstrate and experiment with the four forces covered in this lesson.

2. Have students come up with examples outside of aeronautics where lift, drag, thrust or weight are involved.

Do you have ideas for other activities to use with this activity? Send your suggestions to us at planemath@infouse.com.

All the pages maintain a consistent grid of 6 buttons along the bottom of the page, which should be accessible through a ClickIt! overlay for IntelliKeys. For more information on using assistive technology, please refer to the document "Making PlaneMath Accessible" on the main PlaneMath parent/teacher page.