Rick Schertle and James Floyd Kelly
I wish I had found this book a few years ago when my son was younger. It would have greatly helped established my “Dad Credentials” when he came to me with his imaginative and fun project ideas. I am somewhat handy and can make some basic things, but having Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets around as a ready reference guide sure would have helped. That said, if you have kids who want to start “making”, this is a great, fun place to start.
Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets provides several projects from paper helicopters (with optional, but cool, LED lights), Rubber band airplanes, kites, foam air rockets and more. According to the book’s preface, this is the first in a series of books from Maker Media and sets a good example for the other books in the series. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more like this.
Each project provides some basic discussion starters about the scientific concepts involved in each project and then moves into a careful and well illustrated step-by-step guide for building and then flying the project. All the photos are clear and well-captioned. Templates are included when useful and a complete supplies list are provided for each project. Some projects can also be purchased from Make as complete kits, ready to be assembled.
Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets would be a great book for kids and adults to work through together, over the course of several weeks or months — growing in skills with each project. Older kids could put together many of these projects on their own, if they were looking for a place to start their own maker adventures.
Of course, a book like this is could also be used in any educational environment to discuss a wide variety of engineering, aeronautical and scientific concepts. Hands-on activities are a great way of clarifying and solidifying new concepts by applying theories as soon as possible after they are learned.
If you’re looking to get away from your computer for a while and enjoy some time making things with your hands instead of just your mind, Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets is a great place to start.
Rick Schertle is a master at the craft of teaching middle school in San Jose and a novice maker at home. His diverse interests include backyard chickens, adventure travel, veggie oil-fueled cars and geocaching – all made more fun with the enthusiastic support of his wife and the crazy antics of his young son and daughter.
James is a writer who lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two young sons. He has degrees in Industrial Engineering and English and enjoys making things, writing about those things, and training young makers. He has written over 25 books on a variety of subjects from LEGO robotics to Open Source software to building your own CNC machine and 3D printer.