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Measuring Elevation
If so instructed by your teacher, print out a worksheet page for these problems.


In this activity, you will design wing models out of balsa wood (or some other comparable material) and experimentally calculate their lift at certain speeds and angles. You will then use FoilSim to determine your elevation by entering those measured values into the program.


The FoilSim program.

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

A bicycle that has been modified to test your wing models.

Stopwatch, measuring tape, and protractor. 


You need to study each of the preparation pages and make the modifications as shown on the design page.


About FoilSim


Background Information and Research Avenues


Modified Bicycle Design 

  1. Gather information on both the flat and Lilienthal wings with which the Wright Brothers worked. Briefly list the information you discover, and explain how this will affect the models you create.
  2. Build a wing model out of balsa wood. The area should be restricted to 1 square foot.
  3. Attach the models to the modified bicycle, making sure to measure the angle at which the model is placed on the bicycle. Record the angle.
  4. Attach masses to the bar. Run three trials using 25 g, 50 g, and 75 g.
  5. As the driver pulls forward, record your observations. Make careful observations. As the mass starts to lift, start the stopwatch and mark the location of the bicycle. With the driver maintaining a steady speed, time the bicycle for a certain distance traveled.
  6. Measure the distance traveled and record the time and distance.
  7. Complete the questions and calculations on the worksheet.
  8. Use the values obtained on the worksheet, and set those values into the FoilSim program. Modify camber to estimate the shape of your wing. Vary the elevation until the lift matches the weight lifted by your wing models.
  9. Record this elevation.
  10. Design a report, either written or a presentation, that explains your experimental procedure, 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, May 13 02:38:38 PM EDT 2021

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