Whirligigs

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Whirligigs
Name__________________________________
Activity
Physics 206
Mr. Dristle
Whirligigs
Background: Whirligigs are paper helicopters. A really effective one will stay in the air longer
because it converts more of its gravitational potential energy into rotational kinetic energy. In
simpler words: The more energy that goes into making it spin, then the less energy is
available to make it fall.
BUT WHAT MAKES FOR A GOOD SPINNER?
There are two different whirligigs printed on the next page for you to cut out and try. Each
one has wings, a body, and a tail.
Procedure:
1. Carefully cut and fold each whirligig according to the directions on the next page, but do not
drop them yet!
2. Examine the number of squares of surface area allotted to each part (wings, body, or tail)
and the shape or configuration of each part. RECORD YOUR OBSERVATIONS HERE:
.
3. Predict which one will stay in the air the longest.
4. Which one really did stay in the air the longest?
5. See if you can identify which characteristics of the better whirligig caused it to stay in the air
longer. Make some hypotheses and conduct your own tests. Describe you procedure.
6. Now design your own whirligig which you want to perform even better than the best of the
two you were originally given. Describe you design and attach a copy of it to this report.

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