Hoopster: Paper airplane

45 minutes What do I need?

  • scissors
  • ruler
  • 3-x-5-inch file cards (or a file folder or some other stiff paper)
  • clear plastic tape
  • plastic straws (not the kind that bend)
Hoopsters fly best on a day that's not windy

What do I do?

Cutting strips 1 Cut a file card the long way into three equal strips. If you're using stiff paper, make three strips that are 1 inch wide and 5 inches long.



2 Put a piece of tape on the end of one strip. Curl the paper into a little hoop and tape the ends together. Taping small hoop

Making big hoop 3 Put the other two strips end to end, so they overlap a little. Tape them together to make one long strip, and put another piece of tape on one end. Curl the strip into a hoop and tape the ends together.

4 Taping big hoop onto straw Put one end of a straw onto the middle of a strip of tape. Put the big hoop on top of the straw and fold the tape up the sides of the hoop.


Our Home Scientists were surprised that their Hoopsters flew. The Graff family wondered how anything that looked so awkward could fly at all! Kids in the Popka family spent days developing new designs for their Hoopsters--including one that was 7 feet long! And the kids in the Hino family got out the butterfly net and tried to catch the Hoopsters as they flew by!

6 Now comes the fun! Hold the Hoopster in the middle of the straw, with the little hoop in front. Throw it like a spear. It may take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, your Hoopster will really fly!


Girl throwing hoopster


Taping small hoop onto straw 5 This part can be a little tricky. Put another strip of tape at the other end of the straw. Press the small hoop very gently onto the tape. Move it around until it lines up with the big hoop, then press the tape down firmly. Your Hoopster should look like the picture below:

Your hoopster should look like this:


7 If you want to experiment with Hoopsters, here are some other things you can try:

  • Put a paper clip at the bottom of the small hoop.
  • Make a really long Hoopster with two straws. Cut a little slit at the end of one straw and pinch it so it fits inside the other straw, then tape them together.
  • Make a double Hoopster with two little hoops side by side on one end and two big hoops side by side on the other. (You'll need two file cards.)

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About the Books

Published by Owl Books,
Henry Holt & Company, New York,
1996 & 1997

ISBN 0-B050-4536 & ISBN 0-8050-4537-6 ,
$12.95 each

©1998 Exploratorium