Implementation of ‘A Paper Plane Parade’ (SOI-MT-503)


In education, providing opportunities to explore the marvels of human ingenuity becomes increasingly crucial. At the heart of this learning scenario lies the conviction that understanding the evolution of various inventions is paramount for students. These creations, spanning centuries, have made our lives easier and have undergone profound changes for the better. Through this learning scenario, embarked on a journey to explore the history of flight, a testament to human creativity and perseverance.

Subject: English and Science in State Primary School in Malta

The class:

This activity was done with a year 6 class of 10 to 11-year-olds attending Paola Primary. The class consisted of 7 students in groups of 2. This activity was held during an English lesson covering the topic of ‘Research Writing’. As an addition to the lesson and as part of the Science topic ‘Forces’ the students created and tested their own paper aeroplanes and took part in a VR experience centred around the topic of aviation. Therefore, they did not only gain insights into the principles of aerodynamics but also enhanced their literacy skills through reflective writing and analysis.

Moreover, instead of confining the lesson to a single location, it was conducted on various days and in different classrooms, including the computer lab, our regular classroom, and even the school’s grounds. This diverse approach was intentional, aiming to provide a dynamic learning experience that catered to different aspects of the curriculum.

Collaborative Experience

In a collaborative group setting, students were prompted with the question: “How do humans fly?” After being introduced to the Europeana website and its resources, they were allotted time to search the Europeana website for answers. Later utilizing the Answer Garden app to collectively share their findings. Subsequently, a lively discussion proceeded, focusing on the profound impact of these inventions on society. Through collaborative discourse, students not only expanded their understanding of flight but also gained deeper insights into the broader implications of innovation. This interactive exchange underscores the importance of collaboration in fostering comprehensive learning experiences.

Figure 1

After the initial phase of the lesson, during which we delved into various means of human flight, it became apparent from the student’s responses that the predominant mode was through airplanes. Building upon this insight, we transitioned into a circle time activity where English reading took centre stage.

As part of the English reading component, they immersed themselves in narratives recounting the Wright brothers, pioneers of aviation, groundbreaking achievements. They learned about Orville and Wilbur Wright’s determination and ingenuity as they embarked on their quest to conquer the skies. During this circle time activity, students eagerly posed thoughtful questions and shared stories about their own travel experiences. The opportunity for students to share their travel experiences served as a bridge between the historical narrative and their own lived experiences.

Figure 2 – Circle Time – Reading about the Wright Brothers.

Designing and Testing Paper Planes

For this activity, it was important for the students to get hands-on and create their own paper planes. Each child was given a different paper plane design, with varying shapes and sizes. They were excited to see the differences and immediately started guessing which ones might fly faster. They pointed out things like the shape being thinner or wider as reasons for their guesses.

Once they finished making their paper planes, it was time to test them out on the school’s grounds. The activity also focused on the topic of forces and air resistance. As they launched their planes, the students noticed how some planes flew smoothly while others struggled against the air. They discussed why this might be happening and came up with ideas about how the shape and size of the planes affected their flight.

After comparing their initial guesses to the actual results, the students discovered that an aeroplane needs to be streamlined to reduce air resistance and fly faster. This hands-on experience allowed them to apply scientific concepts in a practical way and see firsthand how design influences performance.

Figure 3

Exploring Aviation with Virtual Reality (VR)

In the next activity, I decided to further implement the learning scenario and give students the exciting opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of aviation using virtual reality (VR). Through this immersive experience, they were transported into the cockpit of an airplane, went on a flight in a small aircraft, and even experienced a thrilling seaplane landing. The VR experience provided a unique opportunity for the students to gain a firsthand perspective of aviation, allowing them to see the world from the pilot’s point of view. By simulating a flight in a small aircraft, they experienced the sensation of take-off, navigation, and landing, deepening their understanding of the complexities of flight.

Incorporating technology into the lesson not only made the learning experience more engaging and interactive but also allowed students to explore concepts in a way that was not possible through traditional methods alone. By embracing VR technology, we were able to bring the wonders of aviation to life in the classroom, inspiring curiosity and igniting a passion for exploration and discovery.

Figure 4 – Students using the VRs – transported into the world of aviation.
Figure 5 – VR Experience – The Activities.

Airport Adventure: A Real-World Exploration of Aviation

For the next activity, the children had the invaluable opportunity to visit the airport. For many, this was their first time stepping onto an airport ground, as they had never travelled abroad before. During the visit, students participated in a Mathematics trail set up within the airport premises, allowing them to apply the mathematical concepts they had learned throughout the implementation of the learning scenario in a real-life setting. Additionally, they had the privilege of engaging in discussions with a pilot and a cabin crew member, asking valuable questions, and gaining insights into the world of aviation firsthand. Moreover, students had the chance to witness airplanes take off and land at the airport’s observation area, further enriching their understanding of aviation and providing memorable experiences that would inspire their future learning experiences.

Figure 6 – Students working out their maths trail.
Figure 7 – Students interviewing a pilot and a cabin crew member.
Figure 8 – Students in the observation area.

Main Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will develop problem-solving skills by analyzing challenges and devising strategies to overcome them.
  • Collaborative group work will enhance students’ social and emotional skills, fostering positive relationships and a supportive learning environment.
  • Engaging in invention design will promote a growth mindset, encouraging resilience and learning from setbacks.
  • Exploring primary sources will instill a lifelong habit of curiosity-driven inquiry, enriching students’ understanding of the world.


  • Students will demonstrate improved reading comprehension skills by analyzing historical texts from Europeana related to aviation pioneers such as the Wright brothers.
  • Students will use descriptive language and sensory details to convey their thoughts and emotions in their reflective writing.
  • Students will create a vocabulary list of aviation-related terms and their definitions based on their readings from Europeana and other sources.


  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of basic principles of aerodynamics and how they apply to the design and flight of paper planes.
  • Students will predict and justify how changes in paper plane design affect aerodynamic performance based on scientific principles.


  • Students will use multimedia software to create presentations incorporating images, videos, and text excerpts from Europeana to illustrate key concepts in aviation history.
  • Students will engage with virtual reality simulations to explore aviation-related environments and experiences, enhancing their understanding of aerodynamics and flight dynamics.


To enhance the learning scenario, it’s crucial to engage children in hands-on activities and incorporate the use of technology. Just as we did in our lesson, if available, the use of VR experiences can prove to be efficient and engaging, allowing students to immerse themselves in the world of aviation. Additionally, organizing field trips to places like airports, where children can watch airplanes take off and talk to pilots and engineers about aviation, can provide valuable real-world experiences that deepen their understanding and foster curiosity. Integrating these interactive elements will make the learning experience more dynamic and impactful for students.

Link to the learning scenario implemented: A paper plane parade (EN-CUR-609)

Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

CC BY 2.5: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Malmö Museum.

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