Science, technology, construction & design—constructing paper planes at SDN Marrickville

Scientific processes are embedded into projects that spark children’s curiosity about their world. 

At SDN Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west, the preschool children hear and see aeroplanes flying overhead every day. They often ask to fold paper planes, with these requests recently leading the class to investigate the science of flight.  

Early Childhood Teacher Charlotte and the preschool team began by looking with children at the shape and structure of a plane. Some online research led them to compare their own paper planes with the big airliners. A lot of children had travelled on planes, so they shared their own experiences excitedly.  

The educators asked questions, “What was the plane made of?” “What did the wings do?” “What pushed the aeroplane into the air?” The children knew the big aeroplanes had engines - after Charlotte explained that the force of the engine pushed the plane forward, she wondered aloud, “Your paper planes don’t have engines... what force pushes them into the air?”. “We do! Our hands!” came the excited reply.  

Next step was to make paper planes, and study how the force of the children’s hands propelled them forward. Following a set of instructions, the children carefully folded their planes and lined up on the playground for a test flight. Some planes flew well, and some did not. Some even flew sideways! 

Asking questions all the time, the educators encouraged the children’s scientific thinking throughout their project – observing, predicting, testing and analysing results. They experimented with tissue paper, printing paper, cardboard and paper towel. They experimented with force - how they held and threw the plane. They also experimented with weight – after a month of folding, throwing, clipping and running, everyone agreed that putting a paper clip at the front of a paper plane helps it to fly forward.    

Science is all around us, and children’s curiosity about the world makes them natural scientists. At SDN Marrickville, preschoolers engage in projects that stem from genuine interests and real life experiences. With open-ended questions to spark their curiosity, children are challenged to consider scientific principles like cause and effect, and to transfer and adapt their knowledge to new concepts.   

To learn more about our preschool program and curriculum pillars, visit this page here.

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