“Butterfly Wings”: Using Nature to Learn About Flight

Have you ever seen butterflies fluttering around outside, gliding through the air and landing on flowers?  While they are delicate and fragile, butterflies are actually excellent flyers.  They are so good, in fact, that scientists at Harvard University studied butterfly wing shapes as an inspiration for building a miniature flying robot.  In this science STEM activity you will do your own version of the Harvard scientists’ experiment to measure the flight performance of butterfly wings.

 Problem:  How does changing the angle of a butterfly’s wings, relative to the wind,
change the lift force of the wing?