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STEM At Home: How-To DIY Hoop Gliders!

Follow along to create a simple DIY Hoop Glider! Don't forget to check out the free download with the Hoop Glider template, activity ideas and more! 

STEM At Home

Paper airplanes just got a cool new cousin! Check out Port Discovery's How-To on creating your very own Hoop Glider at home! This fun science experiment is something you can do together as family, or have your child follow along with the directions once you've gathered all the necessary materials.

Once they've created their Hoop Glider, ask them some questions and try different things like our ideas below!


  • Plastic or paper drinking straw 
  • Colored construction paper or plain copy paper 
  • Scissors 
  • Markers 
  • Scotch tape 
  • Ruler (to make small and large hoop templates) 

Hoop Glider How To

Build It!   

  • Step 1: Use a marker to trace the small hoop template on construction paper and cut it out.  

Tip: If you do not have printable template, draw a rectangle using a ruler (About 6 inches by 1.5 inches) 

  • Step 2: Use a marker to trace the large hoop template on construction paper and cut it out.  

Tip: If you do not have printable templatedraw a rectangle using a ruler (About 8.5 inches by 1.5 inches) 

  • Step 3: Decorate the hoops with colors and patterns with markers if desired. 
  • Step 4: Cut one inch, even slits, one on each end of the straw  

Tip: Straws with lines make this easier. 

  • Step 5: Bring the ends of the small rectangle together and overlap them. Use tape to secure it. Then use the slits you cut in the straw to hold the hoop. 

Tip: You can tape the bottom of the hoop to the straw, to keep them in place. 

  • Step 6: Repeat with the large rectangle, making sure the hoops are both on the top of the straw. 
  • Step 7: Fly the hoop glider with the small hoop in front. Toss like a paper airplane. 

Science Behind It: The hoops act like wings just like wings just like other things that fly. What other things can you think of that use wings to fly? The two sizes of the hoops keep the straws balanced. The big hoop creates air resistance, which is also called drag. This keeps the straw level. The small hoop steers your glider and keeps it on course. Why does the glider stay upright instead of turning over even though the paper hoops are heavier than the straw? This is because objects of different weight generally fall at the same speed. 

Play On! Experiment with you Hoop Glider:

Try one of these experiments at time. When you change one thing at a time, you are changing the variable. Make observations by recording what happens during each experiment.   

  • Change 1: What would happen if you move the hoops closer together?  

Tip: Try using tape instead of the slits you cut to move the hoops on the straw.  

  • Change 2What would happen if you made the straw a different length?  

Tip: Try getting another straw and tape them together or cut your straw in half.  

  • Change 3: What would happen if you added more hoops to the straw?  

Tip: Try making some more hoops of different sizes and add them to your glider. 

  • Change 4What would happen if the hoops were not lined up?  

Tip: Try using tape to position the hoops differently on the straw. If they are not lined up you should not be able to see through all the hoops at once.  

  • Change 5: What would happen if you changed the hoops to make a different type of wing? 

Tip: Try breaking apart your hoops to make flat instead of circular wings. 

Share your pictures with us! #portdiscovey @portdiscovery

Check out the FREE Download with the Hoop Glider template!

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