Reflect (10 minutes)

  1. Let each team show their final paper airplane design to the class and briefly explain why they picked that design.
  2. Make a table like Table 1 on the board, and fill it in with the results from teach team. 

Team Name



Built four planes in

under 5 minutes?



Table 1. Example data table for class-wide results


  • Based on all the results, which team did the best job meeting the criteria?
  • The team that had the longest average distance and was able to build all four of their final planes in less than five minutes.

3. You can use the student worksheet to ask students to reflect on the following questions individually (or in teams), or discuss them as a class and skip the last page of the worksheet.

  • Why was it important to define criteria and constraints for our engineering problem?
  • We had to define the criteria to make sure we built what the customer wanted. We had to know what the constraints were so we did not run out of time or materials when building our planes.
  • Did you find any of the criteria or constraints hard to deal with? What problems did you encounter?
  • Answers could include, for example, that they wished they had more paper to test more designs, more time to decide on a final design, and/or more time to build four copies. Maybe they felt it was difficult to build four planes with reliable performance (if one plane performed better than the others).
  • If we did this activity again and you had more time or materials (fewer constraints), what would you do differently?
  • Answers could include using different materials, doing some background research about successful paper airplane designs, more systematic testing of their designs, etc.
  • Think back to the paper airplane I showed you at the very beginning of class. Using words you learned today, can you describe what was wrong with that paper airplane?
  • That paper airplane did not meet the criteria for the problem. It was supposed to fly straight, and instead, it flew in loops.

Remember to see the variations section for suggestions to highlight other parts of the engineering design process.