Paper Express

Contributor: Scott White, University of Toronto, OISE, Inner City Option

Time required: 25 - 30 minutes

(2-3 minutes of instruction, 10-15 minutes of group work and testing, 1-2 minutes per group to present)


1 Sheet of paper (plain copy paper)

1 Paperclip

30 cm of masking tape

1 Wooden stir-stick

1 Measuring device (Meter/Yard Stick, Ruler, Measuring tape)

1 Pen/Pencil and a notebook for recording results

NOTE: Groups should include the paper clip, stir-stick, paper and tape in their design.  The paper clip, stir-stick, tape act as cargo and provide for more variation and thinking in designs.


  1. Place individuals in groups of 2 – 5
  2. Instruct them on use of the materials provided to build a flying object
  3. Instruct them on safety and safe space for flying object indoors (i.e. hallway or gymnasium)
  4. Instruct them on expectations and record keeping as a group
  • Record their design and rationale for the design
  • Record how they came to choose the design as a group
  • Record at least 3 attempts and measurements on distance of flight
  1. Inform groups that once they have designed, tested and recorded 3 flights, one member of their group must present the object and results to the class
  2. A final test flight may be demonstrated by the group(s) who have achieved the greatest distance

Special Notes:

The primary objective of the exercise is teamwork, creativity and expression.  This exercise allows individuals to work collaboratively at a specific simple task, get to know one another and express ideas.  While elements of competition may arise, a reminder to groups can be given that in the interest of experimentation and study the purpose of the exercise is to get out of their seats (activity based learning), work together (teamwork) and to explore learning tasks (acquisition of knowledge through experience).  While they are building a flying object, testing and measuring the distances it flies – other questions may be asked about intrinsic learning (motivators), cognitive or social learning.

Various aspects of learning may include cognitive tasks of reasoning/problem solving and decision making, flexibility, reflection on strategy, gross motor control, fine motor control, selective attention, listening skills, writing, responding to novelty, hypothesis testing, formulating and communicating a process.

If the task is specifically with educators/teachers – the facilitator may choose to ask groups about “learning that has taken place” such as social or cognitive skills or how individual abilities affect group dynamics or about attitudes toward performing group based tasks (obstacles, barriers, supports).


Build a flying object using only your dominant hand to encourage every group member’s hands to become involved and demonstrate reliance, limitation and dependencies emerging in group work.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

More Main Courses

Cookbook Homepage