Design of Airfoils and
Problem- Solving Using FoilSim
Subject Area: Physical Science
Grade Level: 9
National Mathematics and 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, complete the
problem-solving activities to demonstrate an understanding of the
Time Required: 2-5 days
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 problem solving, click on Design
of Airfoils and Problem-Solving Using FoilSim.
You, or you and your partner(s), will be evaluated on the
feasibility of your answers.
You will be able to use FoilSim to predict consequences
and complete supplemental activities that provide further
investigation of an airplane wing that generates a given lift.
Submitted by: Richard Shea, Rogers High School,