Our Flyer-flyer Competition: Origami Plane Physics

In the GradschoolShopper booth at the 2012 APS March Meeting, we decided to spruce things up a bit. Sure, we have a flyer – and it has a lot of information for students on how to find the best graduate degree in science through our (free) online search engine. Sure, it’s a great flyer and we gave it away like hotcakes, along with our super fashionable string backpack — but why not go a step further and make our flyer fly, literally?

Cool, right? We thought so too, so on the back of the flyer we printed an origami template for an actual paper airplane (flyer-flyer, see?) and then challenged the young physicist undergrads to improve it. The challenge was simple: The student who manages to tweak the plane and make it glide the farthest wins our book, 2012 Graduate Programs in Physics, Astronomy and Related Fields.

A relatively simple design by Tim Clark from the University of West Florida took everyone by surprise. Tim’s plane reached the longest distance while traveling diagonally (I’ll let you calculate what that means.) A definite win! It appears that on some occasions, simplicity triumphs over elaborate attempts to conquer gravity.

Tim Clark from the University of West Florida is our Winner in the Flyer-flyer Competition


Well done, Tim, and good luck in your quest for a Graduate degree!

If you want to try our competition, we’re still interested to see if our flyer-flyer can be tweaked to fly-fly the farthest-est. You can contact us for a copy, then print it at home, tweak it with physics, and send us a picture to our facebook or twitter with the short description of why you think your plane is the best plane.

We will be more than happy to share your creation with the world and do some physics while we’re at it.

See you at the next APS March Meeting!

Do you have ideas on how to use your physics knowledge to improve our paper flyer?
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Advice to Students

Get a summer job, or summer classes, in the school you are going to study in. You don’t have to commit to anything long-term, but you can start in the summertime before your program starts. This way, you can also secure your accommodations and avoid competing with other students for housing during the fall. — Gary White, director of the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma, Podcast Episode #3

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