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Virgin Money - Design to Flight

From 12/Apr/2021 to 28/May/2021
Times: varied
Venue: Online event
Price: free

Virgin Money are working with the STEM hub to move their outreach activities into the virtual world in order to continue supporting schools with meeting their Gatsby Benchmarks. We’re looking for a  couple of classes/schools to pilot our first virtual activity with beaming in direct to your classroom.

The activity teaches about the importance of testing using a fun and physical paper plane exercise to demonstrate the principles. This will incorporate subjects Technology, Engineering and MATHS. 



In this activity, the students act as if they are aerospace engineers by following design documents supplied by a fictional customer for a particular airplane they would like building.  The students then attempt to make the prototype using A4 paper and then test it out on a makeshift runway to see which team or individual can fly their model the furthest.  The activity is cheap and easy to run and has a competitive edge, which the students seem to enjoy. 


The activity is designed to help students understand the importance of good quality design documents to enable effective development and testing to take place and giving clear instructions to ensure a customer’s requirements are met.  The finished prototype can then be tested and the results accurately recorded to provide an average flight length to the customer. 

The activity requires problem solving, analytical thinking, good communication, listening skills and strong teamwork.  The presentation also encourages the students to think about the different scientific forces that make paper, and real, airplanes fly.


Paper Airplane STEM PowerPoint Presentation, which explains the activity and also when to hand out each document (supplied)

Flight Distances Sheet (supplied)

The Hammer High Level Design Document (supplied)

The Hammer Detailed Design Document (supplied)

Laptop (for presentation)

TV screen / monitor (to display the presentation)

Pack of A4 paper

Tape measure(s)



Tape (to mark out the runway)

Flipchart to record overall flight time results (optional)

Enough space to fly the airplanes (recommend a runway length of around 12-15 metres)

Recommended a minimum of 3 people to run the activity.  One to measure the distances of the planes, one to keep the students in order during the test flights and one to make a record of the distances reached and to help the students work out the average flight distances



Minimum 30-40 minutes depending on the number of students in the session and how quickly they make their prototype



If you’d be interested in experiencing our virtual session and providing us with some feedback afterwards, please send an email to STEMOutreach@virginmoney.com



On the day notes: Dates are flexible between 12/04/2021 and 28/05/2021
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