I was so surprised at how well these easy paper spinners ( or paper helicopters ) worked, they take less than two minutes to put together, spin amazingly well and inspire some great investigations. They are also part of my Tray a Day series, so do follow along on the Science Sparks Facebook page.

I’ve also got lots more easy paper science challenges you might like to try.

Tray a day - Paper, scissors and a paperclip for making easy Paper Spinners

How to Make a Paper Spinner

What you need:      

Different types of paper

Paper clips


Easy paper spinners STEM Challenge - paper helicopters
Easy Paper Spinners

How to make a paper spinner ( or paper helicopter )

Watch the video for instructions for how to make the paper spinners. Or download our easy to follow Paper Spinners instructions.

Hold the top of the spinner between your fingers ( paperclip end down ) and let it fall to the ground, does it spin?

Things to think about

Consider factors that might affect how fast the spinner falls:

  • Type of paper
  • Number of paper clips
  • Size of spinner
  • Height dropped from

Paper Spinner Extension Activities

Children can then design a fair test to find out how one factor affects the time the spinner takes to fall. Think about whether to use a timer or drop two spinner at the same time. 

Paper Spinner Challenge 1

Try to make the slowest spinner? What do you need to change?

Challenge 2

Did you know astronauts aboard the ISS return to Earth in a capsule? Their descent is slowed down using a parachute, why would  a mechanism like our spinners not be a good alternative?

Challenge 3

Ask children to develop a different spinner design.

Learning points

Air Resistance slows moving objects and that when an object falls, air resistance acts in the opposite direction to the weight.

Children should be able to explain the forces acting on the spinner as it falls to the ground (air resistance pushes up and weight of the object pulls down).

Paper Spinner Instructions

Click below to download the instruction sheet.

paper spinner instructions

Suitable for:

Key Stage 1 Science

Working Scientifically

  • Asking simple questions and recognising that they can be answered in different ways
  • Observing closely, using simple equipment
  • Performing simple tests
  • Identifying and classifying
  • Using their observations and ideas to suggest answers to questions
  • Gathering and recording data to help in answering questions.

Upper Key Stage 2 – Forces

More Science for Kids

Try one of our fun forces and motion experiments. Make rockets, slip and slide on the floor and more!

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Easy paper spinner ( paper helicopter ) STEM Challenge #scienceforkids #STEMChallenge #STEMforkids

This post was first published in 2016 and updated in 2020.

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The post Easy Paper Spinners appeared first on Science Experiments for Kids.

Originally posted at Science Sparks