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Make a Kite that really Flies!

Which materials are best for making a kite?

Many store-bought kites are made of nylon or plastic, but kites can also be made from other materials, such as different kinds of paper or cloth. Which material do you think would work best? Why?

Test out your hypothesis by making two kites that are exactly the same, but made from different material. Start by collecting materials that you think might make a good kite. You could try tissue paper, construction paper, brown paper bags, plastic shopping bags, or cloth. Based on the way each of these materials feels, which do you think will make the best kite? Ask your parents or an adult for permission before you cut any materials.

Once you decide on two materials, you can try out this experiment by using the kite instructions below.

This activity is of medium difficulty. It could take an hour to complete, and you may need help from an adult.

Hypothesis: What do you think will happen? Will the material you use be too light, or too heavy? Will it be strong, or do you think it might tear in the wind? Do you think the wind will lift it a little or a lot?

Materials: You’ll need plastic drinking straws, twine or string, scissors, glue or tape, kite string, a pen or marker, and two different materials (one for each kite).

Procedure: Here are the instructions for how to make a pyramid kite.

  1. For the frame, cut off the bendy part of 24 drinking straws (see image #1).
  2. Thread three straws together with twine and tie the ends together tightly to form a triangle (see image #2).
  3. Thread two straws onto a new piece of twine with the ends of twine hanging out.
  4. Tie the two ends of that string to two points of the triangle. You should be able to lay the straws flat and they should look like a diamond with a line through the middle (see image #3).
  5. Thread one straw onto a new piece of twine, letting the strings hang out the ends. Tie one end to one point of the diamond. Then lift up the other point of the diamond and tie the other end of the string that point to make a pyramid (see image #4). Make sure all the straws are close to each other, and strings are tied tightly at each corner.
  6. Make three more pyramids just like this.
  7. Place one pyramid onto your material and trace it with a pen or marker. Cut out the triangle you traced, but cut so that it’s about one inch larger on all sides (see image #5).
  8. Fold the material around the straws, and glue or tape them down to make one side. Turn the pyramid and do this again to make one other side (see image #6). Do this to each of the other three pyramids.
  9. Turn three of the pyramids so the covered sides look like a tent with the opening facing you. Arrange them in a triangle with the points touching (see image #7). Tie all the touching corners together.
  10. Place the last pyramid on top of the other three pyramids and tie the touching corners together (see image #8).
  11. Tie your kite string to the point at the top of the large pyramid.

Once you have made two kites, each made with a different material, take both kites outside and see which one flies better!

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