Taking Flight

Have you ever wondered how an airplane takes off from the ground and maintains flight?  Understanding how forces affect a plane’s flight is important in knowing how the plane moves and the factors that can affect flight.  The main four forces are:

Lift-When pressure above the wings of the plan are low and the pressure under the wings is high along with increased speed of the plane.

Thrust-the force that generates lifts by pushing or pulling an aircraft forward.


Drag- Outside forces including air friction and air resistance that will slow the plane down.

Gravity- natural phenomenon that pulls any object down.

Do you want to see these forces in action?

Build a paper airplane and fly it across the room.  How does it move?  How long does it fly?  What can be done to improve the flight?

Need help in building a paper airplane or want new ideas in building check out Fold’NFly to help you with designs.



Horton, B. (2006). Science Fun with Flight. Ohio State University Extension. Can be purchased at http://extensionpubs.osu.edu

(2021) Fold’NFly. Retrieved from https://www.foldnfly.com/#/1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2


Looking for more computer science opportunities? Contact your local OSU Extension Office to learn about programs offered in your area!


Peer-reviewed by Margo Long, OSU Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Marion County

Eco April: Build a Bird Feeder, Feeding Backyard Birds to Improve Your Health

By Kelly Royalty, OSU Extension, 4-H Program Assistant, 4-H Youth Development, Clermont County

Image source: https://www.curioushalt.com/10-easy-diy-recycle-crafts-can-home/

As a child, I remember going to “feed the birds,” with my Grandma.  She would drive to a parking lot and throw out breadcrumbs and what seemed like hundreds of birds would come flocking around us. To this day, I still have a fear of birds. However, I think her real intent was to immerse us in nature and help us gain an appreciation for being in the moment, doing nothing but watching the birds. At the time, I did not understand the benefits of “feeding the birds.”  While I do not recommend my Grandma’s particular method, several studies have shown that feeding our backyard birds can improve our mental health.

According to a study conducted by Cox and Gaston (2016), “the act of maintaining and watching a bird feeder increased self-reported feeling of relaxation, so contributing towards reduced levels of stress.” Stress reduction is not the only benefit of bird watching; it is a great way to recover after virtual meetings or school as it provides an opportunity for quiet reflection and can create a sense of belonging and connectedness to nature. For many birders, bird watching becomes a life-long hobby and even leads to new hobbies such as photography.

Image source: http://mother2motherblog.com/tag/attracting-backyard-birds/

Participate in Ohio 4-H Spring into STEM: Maker Monday by creating your own Upcycled Backyard Perch Birdfeeder (lesson.) Then, sit quietly admiring your work, watching the birds, and observing the sights and sounds around you. Here is an observation sheet if you want to document the birds that visit your feeder.  Hopefully, this activity will leave you feeling calmer and refreshed.

If you want to learn more about birds, youth can enroll in their local 4-H program and take the Ohio Birds project. The project book is currently available free of charge as part of our effort to keeps kids engaged while staying at home. You can check with your local park district for bird-watching programs and opportunities.

TAKE ACTION TODAY: Contribute to sharing your observations with eBrid or Project FeederWater, citizen science projects designed to help scientists with the understanding and conservation of birds.

Cox, D. T., & Gaston, K. J. (2016). Urban Bird Feeding: Connecting People with Nature. PloS one, 11(7), e0158717. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158717


The official Ohio checklist stands at 443 species and a species pair as of March 2021. The checklist follows the nomenclature and taxonomic sequence of the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-List of North and Middle American Birds through the Sixty-first Supplement (July 2020).

 Ohio Birds project

Upcycled Backyard Perch Birdfeeder Lesson

Birds of Ohio Field Checklist

Ohio Bird Lists

8 Easy Ways to Identify Backyard Birds

Peer-reviewed Tracy Winters, OSU Extension Education, 4-H Youth Development, Gallia County, and by Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development & STEM, Pickaway County.

Forces of Flight

By Travis West, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Vinton County

What kid has not tried to make the best paper airplane and tried to outdo their friends? We are all competitive and want to make our plane fly the furthest or do a cool trick. Working hard and testing new designs is the name of the game and we want to reward kids for their tenacity to engineer a better model. During afterschool aerospace programs, I see folding, refolding, cutting, frustration, and pieces of paper flying during the aerospace activities. Understanding Newton’s Laws of Motion is important to success, but for those that are not science lovers that language makes us want to tune out. How do we get those that don’t “love” science to learn how it relates to engineering and their success in building paper airplanes?

There are 4 simple concepts that will help us engineer a paper airplane that challenges our competitors. Exploring the forces that act on a flying object in the air: Drag, Gravity, Lift and Thrust will give us information about engineering that flying object. Conduct the following activities to reinforce these concepts:

  1. Drag – Air Engines (Aeronautics: An Educator’s Guide, p.13)
  2. Gravity – Rotor Motor (Aeronautics: An Educator’s Guide, p.74)
  3. Lift – Experiment 3 (Science Fun with Flight, p.8)
  4. Thrust – Experiment 5 (Science Fun with Flight, p.11) 


Horton, B. (2206). Science Fun with Flight. Ohio State University Extension. Can be purchased at http://extensionpubs.osu.edu

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (2002) Aeronautics: An Educator’s Guide with Activities in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (NASA Publication No. EG-2002-06-105-HQ). National Aeronautics and Space Administration.   https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/58152main_Aeronautics.Educator.pdf


507 Robotics 1 with EV3

EV3 Book


Use the newest LEGO® technology to learn about what a robot is, how to build one, and how to program it. Activities are based on the EV3 Core Set available from LEGO® Education. (Careful, other EV3 kits may not be the same! See below for details.) This is the first in a series of two books.

A few resources are needed:

  • Project book 507 Robotics 1 with EV3 is available in Ohio State University Extension county offices, through Media Distribution’s eStore, and in the National 4-H Mall. Ohio residents get the best price when they order and pick up their purchases through local Extension offices. Sample pages and ratings are available on Project Central.
  • Activities are based on a customized kit from LEGO® Education that sells for aproximately $400 plus shipping. See purchasing information below. (This same kit will be used for next year’s project, 508 Robotics 2: EV3N More.)
  • Youth need access to a computer and high speed internet. Files and videos that support the activities are available.

Ohio 4-H STEM Project Books

EV3 Book

A 4-H project is made up of three types of activities: 1) Hands-on activities: making, producing, practicing, observing, testing, interviewing, caring for, etc.; 2) Organized activities: demonstrations, speeches, workshops, camps, county judging, project activities, exhibits, etc.; and 3) Leadership/Citizenship activities: conducting, planning, teaching, assisting, informing, organizing, etc.