Yr 11 DT Shoe Box Glider

23 March 2023


The Year 11 Design and Technology students have recently embarked on a 4-week challenge to take the humble shoe box and allow it to glide as far as possible.

As you might expect, the shoe box is not very aerodynamic. Initial test flights resulted in a “flight” of about 2m from a launch height of 2m. A glide slope ratio of 1:1.

By doing research into the problem, they discovered more about how designers and engineers use physics principles such as Bernoulli’s Principle, aerofoil design, wing mass to surface area etc. to come up with some ideas on how best to solve the problem.

As well as flying, their gliders also had to meet other criteria that included being able to carry a payload and complete numerous flights without falling apart. They also had to work in teams and finish work in the available time.

Eventually, they built some prototypes using the tools and materials their teacher, Anthony Fiore supplied. Thanks to copious quantities of hot glue, and a great deal of arguing and prototyping, they all managed to build gliders that showed an improvement in the glide slope ratio.

The final testing day was fun, yet competitive. Each team scrutinized the flights of the other teams and the debate about which glider performed the best and which teams may or may not have cheated is still ongoing.

The results were impressive.

They managed flights of over 15m from a 2.5m launch height. This is a glide slope ratio of 1:6.2. Not bad for a trusty shoe box.

Well done Year 11!