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Uploaded:2017-07-25
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One of Jessi and Squeak's favorite things to do on a nice day is to go to the park and fly their homemade kites! Today, Jessi will show you how to build your own kite and tell you how a little wind can send it soaring through the air!
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SOURCES:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bring-science-home-kite-tails/
https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/how-kites-fly
https://livewellforless.sainsburys.co.uk/step-by-step-guide-to-making-a-kite/
http://kitesintheclassroom.com/parts-kite/
It’s a beautiful day, so Squeaks and I were just about to go to the park and do one of our favorite summer activities: fly kites!

Kites come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! You could buy them at a store, but Squeaks and I really want to build our own!

Most basic kites are big and flat, with a long tail. They’re connected to a long piece of string, which you hang on to so you can control how they fly. [Squeaks squeaks] How do kites fly? That’s a good question, Squeaks!

There’s more to how a kite stays up in the air than you might think! It all has to do with that big, flat part of the kite, which is called the sail. As the kite flies through the air, the sail is tilted, so the back of the kite is a little bit lower than the front of the kite.

That tilt is really important for keeping the kite in the air, because it changes the way the air flows over the sail. As the air flows past, it pushes on the sail. But because the kite is tilted, the air rushing past the bottom of the kite pushes up on the kite harder than the air flowing past it on the top.

With the air pushing up on the bottom of the sail, the kite can stay in the air without falling down. But there’s something else that helps kites stay up in the air, besides the big flat sail. Can you guess what it is, Squeaks? [Squeaks squeaks] That’s right!

That big, long tail! The tail weighs down one side of the sail, which keeps the kite tilted so the air rushes past it in just the right way to push up on the kite and keep it flying. Squeaks, now that we know how kites fly, are you ready to build our own? [Squeaks squeaks] OK, let’s do it! [to viewers] You can build your own kite at home, too!

Just make sure to ask a grownup for help with this. You'll need a heavy plastic sheet that you can cut, like a very strong trash bag. We're going to use a plastic table cloth!

You’ll also need two dowels, which are basically long, straight wooden sticks. You'll also need a very long piece of thin string or yarn for a line. At least 100 meters, or 300 feet, would be good.

The more the better! Plus, you’ll want a piece of wood or cardboard to wind the string around and hold on to. And, of course, we’ll need some strong tape, like duct tape or packaging tape, to hold it all together!

You’ll need a ruler, scissors, and a marker, too. If you’re using black plastic for the sail, make sure the marker is a color that you’ll be able to see, like silver. Ok, Now that we have all the supplies we need, we’re ready to make our kite!

Lay the dowels across the plastic in a cross shape, with one of the dowels a little higher so one half is longer than the other. Use your ruler to draw a diamond around your dowels, like this. It’s good to make sure the diamond is a little bit bigger than your dowels to make sure it fits.

Next, have a grownup help you cut the diamond out of the plastic. You can trim the edges of the plastic if it’s a little too big. Now you can tape the dowels to the plastic.

Make sure they’re stuck on really well! We’ll need them to help the sail keep its shape in the wind. Now tape the dowels together in the middle.

Poke two holes in the plastic along the dowel that goes across the kite lengthwise. They should be close to the corners, but not all the way at the end of the dowels. Cut a smaller piece of string, about two times as long as one of the dowels.

Next, flip the kite over and thread one end of the string through one of the holes and tie it to the dowel, and do the same thing with the other end of the string and the other hole. Tape the ends of the string in place to make sure they stay put! Now, take one end of the rest of your string and tie it to the shorter string, right in the middle.

You should tape that together too. Finally, wind the rest of the string around your wood or cardboard handle. Our kite is done! [Squeaks squeaks] Oh, that’s right!

We need a tail! Cut out a long, thin piece of the plastic and tape it to the bottom of the kite. OK, now our kite is really done!

To fly it, all we need to do is go to a big, open area outside on a day that’s a little windy, but not too windy. It’s easiest if you have a friend or grownup to help! Hold on to the handle with the string wrapped around it, and have your friend hold on to the kite.

Unwind about 20 meters, or 60 feet, of the string and stand far enough apart from your friend so that the string is straight and not hanging down too much. Your friend should stand with their back to the wind, holding the kite by where the strings are tied together. Next, they should let go of the kite so the wind can push it up, while you pull on the string to get it going!

It might take you a few tries, but in the end, you’ll get your kite flying! Alright, Squeaks! Let's go fly our kite!

And if you guys make a kite, we’d love to see it and hear how your adventure went went! Grab a grownup to help you leave a comment below, or send us an email at kids@scishow.com. We’ll see you next time, here at the Fort!