MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Soaring in The Wind: The Science of Kite Flying

Roselainy Binti Abdul Rahman
Habibah Norehan Binti Hj Haron
Nor Azizi Binti Mohamed
Salwani Binti Mohd. Daud
Norzaida Binti Abas
Hafiza Binti Abas

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia,
Kuala Lumpur Campus
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Flying kites is a popular hobby in Malaysia and very much part of the culture. This lesson looks at kite flying science to introduce basic ideas related to the dynamics of kite flying and can be used as an extension of a physics lesson, especially after the students have learned about forces. It will focus on some of the concepts such as weight, thrust, lift and drag. It is a fun way to introduce the forces acting upon a kite and the scientific principles that allow a kite to fly. The lesson is suitable for students in secondary school. It will help students relate to the effect of forces and gives an introduction to the science of flight. As an added value, the video will also share some information about Malaysian kites which are “tailless”. The Malaysian kite is called “Wau” (pronounced “wow”), and there are many distinctive designs since each Malaysian state has its own official Wau. Malaysia has 14 states. The break activities included are to be conducted in the classroom, and students are to work in small groups on the questions given in the lesson. Students are to carry out two simple experiments to study how air flows on a kite.

The objectives of the lesson are for students to:

  1. identify and know which forces make kites fly;
  2. relate the flight dynamics to the anatomy of the kite; and
  3. understand the physical variables contributing flight.

The lesson is about 50 minutes long including the class activities.

Dr. Roselainy, Dr. Habibah and friends are lecturers at UTM Razak School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Assoc Prof Dr. Salwani and Hafiza are from the UTM Advanced Informatics School. They teach subjects such as engineering, mathematics, physics and science. All of them are active researchers in their own fields and are very passionate on teaching and learning with technology. 

This is a very comprehensive listing of educational resources related to kite flying.
http://www.aka.kite.org/local/EduResources.html

This site, Best Breezes, is dedicated to the history, science and art of kites.
http://best-breezes.squarespace.com/science-of-kite-flight/

This site is sponsored by Discover This and presents the fun and physics of kite flying.
http://www.discoverthis.com/article-kites.html

This beautiful 8-minute video is about Wau-making in the Malaysian state of Kelantan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9yzrzu2HZw

This site provides a wealth of information about, and images of, Malyasian kites.
http://www.my-best-kite.com/wau.html

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