How Do Airplanes Fly?
by C.Y. Stewart
September 22, 2000
Looks like MAGIC, but it's the Bernoulli Principle!
Looks like MAGIC, but it's the Bernoulli Principle!

Where in the World is Daniel Bernoulli?

This is a fun board game suitable for the entire family or a classroom of any age (younger kids are able to understand and do most of this with adequate patience and assistance from adults or older kids).   This game rewards players with the chance to perform wild, gravity-defying experiments that teach the principles of flight and lift.

To make the game board, I cut a large, rectangular section of cardboard from an appliance box, which you can easily obtain from any major retailer if you call ahead and ask them to save one for you.  I have found that furniture/appliance rental stores usually have plenty of boxes in their dumpsters or will save them for me when I call in advance.

I covered the cardboard with world map wrapping paper, brushing white glue across the entire surface of the cardboard and carefully smoothing the paper out.  After it dried, I used a permanent marker and ruler to draw the game board based on the template (Page 5 of 5 link below).

In part, the Bernoulli Principle is that faster-moving air weighs less than slower-moving air.  By forcing the air above the wings of an aircraft to move faster than the air moving under the wings, you create pressure under the wings unequal to the pressure above the wings, causing lift.  This is achieved by the shape of the wing, having more surface area on top than on bottom.  (If you're totally confused now, don't worry.  The game doesn't try to explain all of this, it simply gives kids an exciting and fun way of discovering the Bernoulli Principle in action.  It introduces them to the physics of flight.)

Here are the links to the instruction pages for how to make and play the game, along with the  templates for the game board and cards.  These are JPEG image files uploaded at*.jpg:

Page 1 of 6 - Teaching/Making Instructions
Page 2 of 6 - Experiment Cards 1-3
Page 3 of 6 - Experiment Cards 4-6
Page 4 of 6 - Experiment Cards 7-9
Page 5 of 6 - Board Template
Page 6 of 6 - Game Intro & Rules

Note:  Please excuse the poor quality of these copies -- they are legible, but as you'll see, somewhat sloppy.  These were copies of copies shared by an educator at the U.S. Space Foundation's class on Space & Flight Basics.  I do not know where the originals came from.

If you have any questions or difficulties, please contact the author via email (  I will be happy to help you successfully make and play this game.