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Amelia’s aeroplane Olympics

Hold your own paper aeroplane flying competition, worthy of Amelia Earhart herself!

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You’ll need

  • Scissors
  • A4 paper
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Glue sticks
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Elastic bands
  • Pens or pencils
  • Rulers
  • Something to mark lines (for example, chalk, masking tape, or rope)
  • Tape measure
  • Sticky tape
  • Stapler
  • Paper clips

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers

This activity could be run for International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on the 8 March every year. International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. It can also be a great way to introduce young people to inspirational women. International Women's Day has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Find out more about Girls and Women in Scouts.

Setting up the activity

  1. Mark out a starting line and throwing space.
  2. Depending on the size of the group, you may want to create a space for waiting or for crafting paper aeroplanes, too. This allows people to amend their designs each time, too.
  3. Create a score sheet to mark down where people’s planes fly to and how many points that get. You could split people into small groups, make score sheets and have them write down their own score after each round.
  4. Alternatively, one or two volunteers (or young leaders) could monitor the points distance and write it down.
  5. Use a tape measure and set out cones or markers for every 1 m from the throwing line. Mark out in metres until the other side of your meeting place or throwing space.
  6. In this game, each metre will count as 10 points, so 2 m is 20 points, 3 m is 30 points and so on.
  7. Extra points can be given out for creativity or teamwork, too.
  8. Set out paper and craft materials on a table for people to make their paper aeroplanes with.
  9. Make a few printed copies of the sheets from the ‘How to make a paper aeroplane’ section of this page and distribute them across the craft tables for people to use.

Introduce the activity

  1. Gather everyone in a circle.
  2. Ask if anyone has heard of Amelia Earhart and who she is or what she did. Choose a few people to answer if anyone has put their hand up.
  3. Explain to the group that Amelia Earhart was a pilot. 
  4. Read out Amelia’s story.

Amelia Earhart was born in Kansas, USA on 24 July 1897. She decided that she wanted to become a pilot in her youth, and saved up for lessons herself. She eventually became one of the most famous pilots of all time. She worked several jobs to save up the $1,000 that she needed to pay for flying lessons.

As a child, Amelia would spend time climbing trees, sledging and playing games outside. She also kept a collection of worms, moths, katydids and a tree toad that she and her sister had collected. Amelia was home-schooled, and she graduated from high school in 1916. She aspired to have a career in a male-dominated field, keeping a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about other women who had succeeded in fields such as engineering, management, law, and directing.

Her teacher was Anita Snook, a pioneer aviator who was the first woman aviator to run her own aviation business. After lots of hard work and training, Amelia learned to fly. She became the 16th woman in the United States to receive a pilot's licence in 1923.

Amelia set her first record in October 1922, when she flew to an altitude of 4,300 metres, setting a world record for female pilots. In 1928, Earhart became the first woman to fly, as a passenger, across the Atlantic Ocean. Then, in 1932, Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first woman to do so. Three years later, in 1935, she became the first aviator to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California.

During her career, Amelia became a popular figure for the public, and was considered a celebrity. She was a campaigner for aviation and hoped to convince the public that flying was a viable means of travel. Amelia participated in several air races during her career. She also became involved in the Ninety-Nines, which were an organisation of female pilots who championed women in aviation. Amelia became the first president of the organisation in 1930.

In 1937, Amelia attempted to circumnavigate the globe, as she wanted to become the first woman ever to do so. Unfortunately, Amelia and her navigator Fred Noonan mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. There are many theories as to what happened to Amelia Earhart. The most likely explanation for her disappearance is that her plane experienced a malfunction and crashed. She was declared lost at sea in 1939.

Make the planes

  1. Tell everyone that they’re going to be taking part in the Paper Aeroplane Olympics, inspired by Amelia Earhart.
  2. Explain to everyone that they need to make a paper aeroplane. It can be big, small, wide, colourful, be simple or complex. It needs to be designed to fly as far as possible and they could think about using different items, such as paper clips, to help make it fly faster.
  3. Now, get everyone to make a paper aeroplane.
  4. Once everyone’s finished making their plane, ask them to give it a name.

How to make a paper aeroplane  



How to make it





Basic Big Dipper





The basic

Daring Dart

Small to medium



Simple to medium

Basic dart

Shooting Star





Stunt Plane

Jumbo Jet





Sonic jet

Galaxy Glider





Stealth glider

Soaring Spinner





Spinner plane


Run the activity

  1. Everyone should get into small groups of about 3 to 4 to throw at the same time. If you have a smaller group or smaller space, people could throw one at a time.
  2. Tell everyone that there’ll be so many rounds and points to score after each round.
  3. Remind everyone that the way they throw the plane can also impact how far it flies. They could throw it upwards, low to the ground or taking your arm further back to throw it.
  4. Explain that after their go, they can go back to the craft table and make any adjustments to their plane that they’d like to. They just need to be ready for their next go.
  5. Show everyone the throwing space and the markers. Explain that each marker is 1 m apart and, in this game, each metre will count as 10 points, so 2 m is 20 points, 3 m is 30 points and so on. Extra points can be given out for creativity or teamwork, too.
  6. Tell everyone that there’ll be 5 rounds and the aim of each round is to try to get their paper aeroplane as far as possible.
  7. Call the first group up to the throwing line.
  8. Countdown or blow a whistle and let everyone throw their planes.
  9. Once they’ve landed, a volunteer or young leader should tell each player their score to write down or to tell another volunteer to write down, depending on how scores are managed.
  10. Players should retrieve their aeroplane and the next group steps up to throw, until everyone’s finished the first round.
  11. Repeat steps 7 to 10 until there’s been 5 rounds. Remember, people can amend their planes between their throws to experiment. Different designs or weights may help make planes faster.
  12. If a plane hits another plane mid-flight, it’s the referee’s decision if they can fly again.
  13. If a plane goes outside the throwing area or a player stands over the throwing line, again, it’s up to the referee to decide if points should be deducted or if it’s a foul. But make sure everyone knows the rules before playing.
  14. Once finished, count the scores, give out any bonus points for creativity, teamwork or supportive players, then announce the winners. Happy throwing!


How did everyone find that activity? You had to keep trying and persevere. The paper planes can be hard to make too, especially if it’s your first time making them.

Was it easy to make the planes – or did you find it challenging? Did you have to persevere and try, try and try again?

Did you help anyone to make the planes? And what did you think of when you were designing your plane – how did you try to get it to fly better?

How did everyone find flying their planes? How far did everyone’s planes get, and did you make any adjustments to get them to fly faster? Did you find any good techniques? And what would you do to make it better next time?

What do you think it’s like to fly a proper plane? How do you think Amelia Earhart felt on her solo flights? What would you say to her?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

To make it easier, you could have some planes pre-made for people to use.

To make it harder, you could play again and add in some obstacles to make it more difficult, such as:

  1. Trying to get the paper aeroplane through a hoop
  2. Landing on a bullseye target mat on the floor
  3. Landing in a hoop or bucket
  4. Flying low under a table

If anyone needs help or struggles with fine motor skills, give them the opportunity to work in pairs, with a young leader or an adult volunteer. Alternatively, you could have some pre-made planes for people to decorate. Make sure the start line and throwing space is accessible to everyone, too.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

People could write a story inspired by Amelia's adventures, describing what it feels like to fly a plane, and imagining where they would fly to and what they would see from their plane. They could create a piece of artwork, too.

Young people can create and decorate their planes how they want to.