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


In this activity, you will use FoilSim to prepare computer generated models of various wing designs. You will then create models from balsa wood (or some other appropriate alternative). You will quantitatively test the effectiveness of the models and the predictions by attaching them to a hinged beam on a bicycle. The effective lift can then be observed and measured. You will report on the methods and the 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. Go to the backround page and gather information on various wing shapes and the terms associated with wings. Briefly list the information you discover and tell how this will affect your models.
  2. Set values in FoilSim to approximate wing design. The area should be set at 1 square foot, while the altitude should be set at 800 to 850 feet. Find the speed needed for your wing design to produce .25 N, .5 N, and .75 N. Record these speeds and the angle of the wing model.
  3. Using balsa wood, create wing models based on your computer generated models. You can decide the dimensions that create one square foot of area. (Ex. 1' x 1', .5' x 2')
  4. Attach the models to the modified bicycle, making sure to place the models at the correct angle.
  5. Attach masses to the bar. Run three trials using 25 g, 50 g, and 75 g.
  6. As the rider 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 rider maintaining a steady speed, time the bicycle for a certain distance traveled.
  7. Measure the distance traveled and record the time and distance.
  8. Complete the questions and associated calculations on the quantitative worksheet.
  9. Design a report, either written or a presentation, that explains your experimental procedures, your results, and why your results were obtained.

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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