Nitinol Airplane Launcher

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After learning about the properties of Nitinol, students design a balsa wood airplane launcher that uses Nitinol to launch the airplane. Directions for building a working airplane launcher are included.


Students should have an introductory understanding of nanotechnology that can be provided by Kits 1, 2, and 4.

Instruction Time:

Approximately 30-60 minutes


Middle or high school students


Students will design (or simply build from directions) a working balsa wood airplane launcher.


  • National Science Education Standards

    • Content Standard E: Abilities of Technological Design.
  • Illinois State Science Learning Standards

    • 11.B.4b. Propose and compare different solution designs to the design problem based upon given constraints including available tools, materials, and time.
    • 11.B.5d. Choose a model and refine its design based on the test results.


  • directions for building a Nitinol Airplane Launcher
  • 30 10" x 10" pieces of foamboard
  • 30 8-inch rubber bands
  • 30 10" piece of Nitinol
  • 30 balsa wood airplane
  • 3 hair dryers

Teacher Needs:

  • 5-10 pairs of scissors

Online Documents