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Qualitative Testing Activity
If so instructed by your teacher, print out a worksheet page for these problems.


In this activity, you will be using FoilSim to prepare computer-generated models of various wing designs. After you have generated certain wing designs, you will then create real models from balsa wood (or some other appropriate alternative). You will qualitatively test the effectiveness of these models and the predictions by attaching them to a balance on a bicycle and observing the effective lift. You will then report methods and results of your experiment.



Balsa wood, glue, and tissue paper to create wing models.

A bicycle modified that will test your wing models.



About FoilSim


Background Information and Research Avenues


Modified Bicycle Design 

  1. Gather information on flat and Lilienthal wings with which the Wright Brothers worked. Briefly list the information you discover, and tell how this will affect your models.
  2. Set values in FoilSim to approximate two different wing designs, flat and Lilienthal. The area should be restricted to 1 square foot, and the elevation should be set at about 800 to 850 feet. Set the values in such a way that both wings seem to obtain the same lift value. Record this value on the qualitative worksheet, along with the angle at which the wing design is located.
  3. Using balsa wood, create wing models based upon your computer generated models.
  4. Attach the models to the modified bicycle, making sure to keep the same angle as the model in the FoilSim simulation. As the driver pulls forward, record your observations.
  5. Design a report, either written or a presentation, that explains your experimenting procedures, your results, and the reasons for your results.

Related Pages:
Lesson Index
Aerodynamics Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, Jun 12 04:47:13 PM EDT 2014

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