National Science and Technology Week 2013

(Photo Credit:

National Science and Technology Week, from October 18 to 27, 2013, is an event that celebrates the importance of science and technology in everyday life and Canada’s rich scientific and technological culture. National Science and Technology Week has science and technology-related public events going on all across Canada throughout the week; you can see what’s going near you on this page.

To kick off the week, organizers will hold the world’s largest practical science lesson, trying to top 2012’s Guinness World Record-breaking science lesson, when 13,701 Canadians at 88 locations across the country did the same experiments (about Bernoulli’s principle) at the same time (1:00 PM EDT on October 12, 2012).

This year’s lesson explores the effects of gravity and atmosphere on light by conducting three experiments that simulate the flight of paper airplanes on Earth, the Moon, and Mars. You can see Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield explain the lesson below:

Flight involves the interaction of four forces on an aircraft: lift, weight, thrust, and drag. For an aircraft to fly at a constant velocity at a constant altitude, these four forces must be equal and opposite (see image below). Weight varies depending on gravity, while lift and drag are related to the density of the atmosphere.

The four forces of flight

(Credit: Scott Taylor)

Since the Moon and Mars have different gravity and atmospheres (or lack thereof) than the Earth, it seems likely that paper airplanes would fly differently on those worlds. The question is: how would they behave differently? Form your own hypothesis, download the lesson and give it a try!

If you’re looking for more information on paper airplanes, check out this article on CurioCity. A group of students from Bishops College in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, put together an entry for the Canadian Space Agency’s Canadian Science Challenge to see how paper airplanes would fly on board the International Space Station; you can see their video here on CurioCity.

There are lots of exciting careers related to the aviation industry, even if they don’t usually involve paper airplanes. You can check out some of those careers, from airline pilot to aircraft maintenance engineer and aerospace instructor, here on CurioCity.

For more information on National Science and Technology Week activities in your area, visit


Scott Taylor is Acting Program Manager for CurioCity at Let’s Talk Science. He grew up watching bug-eyed monsters in sci-fi B-movies and dreaming of our future in space, and remembers being a young child watching the first astronauts walk on the Moon. Passionate about the importance of science education and understanding how science and technology impacts our society, he is still a sci-fi geek.    

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