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I have a son who is in the eighth grade and is taking soaring lessons.

I'm asking these questions because my motive on soaring lessons is to try and introduce practical applications of math (I'm an account and out of my depth here) with the hope that it sparks an interest in engineering.

He is entering a Science Fair and would like to do a project that involves gliders/flying (really this is his idea).

So we looked though his flight manuals and we can across aspect ratios........”The ratio between the glider’s span and the mean cord of its wings. High aspect ratio in a glider is associated with a high glide ratio, other factors being equal.”

He has to let his teacher know what his project will be and I would like to have an option or two if anyone thinks this will be a project that will produce the desired outcome using a toy glider.

So I’m assuming if we were to by a cheap toy balsa glider to use as one of the Variables Held Constant (fuselage/tail assembly) and he was to make a half a dozen wings from balsa stock varying the length and cord of the wing, but keeping the surface area constant he would find a wing that provides the optimum Aspect Ratio.

I’m also assuming he/we will have to build a simple “catapult” to launch the glider so the amount of energy and the angle of attack (right term??) when launched will be held constant.

Then measure the distance the glider flew to determine the best aspect ratio………..

So what would the math be?

Is there a way to determine what the ideal aspect ratio should be?

Or should he go back to the drawing board and come up with something else?

Thank you for your time!