Sixth-graders created paper airplanes, incorporating their own designs and discovering various folding methods through Internet videos, books, or by asking their parents how to make the best airplane. They were having fun, but with a purpose: To create a plane that would fly the farthest.

Sixth-grade teacher Ann Monsees said the project focused on enhancing the IB learner profile traits of being an inquirer, thinker and reflector. Students were separated into cooperative learning groups to record the distance each of their paper planes flew. As one student threw the plane, another would mark the spot where it landed. Two others would measure the distance. Students rotated in order to complete each task.

After finding the mean, median, mode and range of the data they had collected, the students analyzed the designs of the planes that flew the farthest distances and asked the creators how they came up with those designs. 

“It was exciting to hear the conversations between students about how they decided on their design and what resources they used,” Monsees said. “The lesson motivated students and gave them a wonderful opportunity to work cooperatively.”