The Paper Planes project has been created to provide up to 30 gifted and talented students in Y9 an engaging and challenging bridge into GCSE Science study. Developed with Shireland Collegiate Academy, the project uses practical design skills alongside digital media, robotics, software programming and games design to introduce a range of subject areas with a particular focus on the study of Physics.


The project comprises three stages:

Design (Hypothesis)

Young people work alongside design staff to research and create the ‘perfect’ paper plane. Designs are modeled, documented and discussed in a series of short video and written posts online, giving the public and broader school community the opportunity to engage in the process.  How do we judge perfection in design? What are the measures? How can we test our designs? How can we ensure fairness?

Hardware (Experimentation)

The young people use Scratch to design and control a series of tests for their Paper Plane designs.  They help to construct a robot capable of launching paper airplanes with a number of different variables and control a number of different investigations with physical experiments.

Software (Modeling)

The final stage involves the students considering variables that would be very difficult to model practically; gravity, air resistance, air temperature. The students help to create a new touchscreen ‘physics game’ app to be distributed on iOS and / or Android devices to demonstrate testing these variables. This app is launched globally in the iTunes / Google Play store and is made available as a learning tool for other pupils worldwide for the study of Physics. An Angry Birds type game that explicitly uses scientific language and terminology.