Subject Area: Physics, Physical Science
Grade Level: 9-12
National Science Standards:
- Science as Inquiry: Understandings about scientific
- Physical Science: Motions and forces.
- Science and Technology:
- Abilities of technological design.
- Understandings about science and technology.
National Technology Standards:
- Technology research tools: Use content-specific tools,
software and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing
calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support
learning and research; select and use appropriate tools and
technology resources to accomplish a variety of tasks and solve
- Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools - Routinely
and efficiently use on-line information resources to meet needs
for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and
After reading the explanation given below, use FoilSim to
complete the activity to design an airplane wing that generates a
FoilSim is an interactive
simulation software package that examines the airflow around various shapes
of airfoils. As you change parameters such as airspeed, altitude, angle
of attack, thickness and curvature of the airfoil, and size of the wing
area, the software calculates the lift. The package was created at the NASA
Glenn Research Center.
FoilSim II is a Java applet program that executes inside the browser of your computer.
It is available on the World Wide Web at
You can also
download the program to run off-line.
Shown below is a screen
shot from the program's controls and displays. You may change the values
of the variables by using the slider or the input box on the left of the
To use the slider:
- Click the mouse
pointer on the arrows at the ends of the slider.
- Click the mouse
pointer anywhere between the slider and the arrow.
- Drag the slider
with the mouse.
To use the input
Simply select the
value in the input box, key in the new value, and press Enter or Tab when
finished. The button on the slider will move corresponding to the value
typed in the box.
To begin the problem, click on Testing
Your Wings Activity below.
Students will be able to create graphs that represent the
speed of air passing an airfoil and a baseball. They will be able
to generate, in written format, possible relationships that would
develop as the shape of a baseball is elongated into the shape of
Students will be able to use FoilSim to demonstrate that
the graphic analysis of the airflow around one object can be used
to hypothesize airflow graphs for objects as they are elongated
from a sphere to an airfoil shape.
Submitted by: Lorri Turner, Monticello Middle School,
Cleveland Heights, Ohio