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Summer Brain Games

Experiment: Kite

Build your own kite and explore engineering! See how your experimentation and creative ideas can make this basic design even better.

Materials

Large, heavy-duty trash bag (30 gallon)
Scissors
String
Kite string
Hole punch
Packing tape
1/8-inch dowel rod, 36 inches long (Tip: use thick straws from Straw Pipes activity!)
Measuring tape

Instructions 

This basic kite can be made in different sizes, it just needs a ratio of width to height that’s four to three. These instructions are for a 24-inch-by-18-inch kite, which can be made from a 30-gallon trash bag. 

  1. Cut the trash bag so it’s flat and is only one layer (if it’s a two-ply bag). Measure and cut out a 24-by-18-inch rectangle. Cut the corners off according to the diagram so that your kite is a diamond shape with a flat top and bottom. It’s easiest to fold the kite in half before making the cuts. This way the cuts are the same on each side.
  2. Cut the dowel rod into two pieces that are each 18 inches long. Referring to this diagram, place the dowels along lines AE and BD. Tape along the entire length of the dowel. Use a three-inch piece of tape to reinforce the corners F and C so the plastic around the hole that is about to be made doesn’t tear.   
  3. Use a hole punch to make a hole through the reinforced corners F and C. Cut a piece of string that is 80 inches long. (If you’re making a kite that’s a different size than 24-by-18 inches, make sure the string is at least three times as long as your kite is wide.)
  4. Tie one end of the string through the hole on corner F and the other through the hole on corner C. Find the center of the string and tie a knot so there is a small loop at the center. Connect a roll of kite string to that loop, and go fly your kite! 

What’s Happening?

This kite is designed to catch the wind and bend around like a parachute. All kites catch the wind in some way or another. This is called drag. It is very important for the left and right sides of the kite to be symmetrical or the drag will be uneven and the kite will twist around in circles. To get lift, the string must be tight, or under tension. The tension forces the kite upward when the wind blows against the kite.

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