Kites date back 3000 years, when the Chinese made them from bamboo and silk. Over the centuries kites have been used in religious ceremonies, scientific experiments, military maneuvers and, of course, for fun. In honor of April's status as National Kite Flying Month, today's sites explore the history, the science and the sport of kite flying.
Can a classroom of twenty students make twenty kites, and be outside flying them in twenty minutes? You betcha! Uncle Jonathan from the Big Wind Kite Factory on the Hawaiian island of Molokai shares the kid-tested instructions he's been using with tour groups for fifteen years. The kites are folded from 8 Â½ x 11 inch paper, so they are smaller than the usual kite, but the simple directions are easy enough for kindergartners, yet fun enough for big kids too!
This eye-pleasing site, created for a Physics course, starts with a short explanation of drag and lift, then quickly moves on to other disciplines. Don't miss the folk tales from China, Bali and Hawaii (found on History of Kites page) or the interviews with kiters Michael Graves and Peter Peters. Instructions for building a simple diamond kite and a large list of kite links complete this site.
"An excellent way for students to gain a feel for aerodynamic forces is to fly a kite. " This NASA site starts with a short history of kites, and then introduces the forces that act on kites. "In fact, with the exception of thrust, the forces acting on a kite are also the same forces which act on an airliner or a fighter plane. Like an aircraft, kites are heavier than air and rely on aerodynamic forces to fly. " To progress through the Guided Tour about Forces on a Kite, use the blue next arrow at the bottom of each page.
Professor Kite teaches us how to pick the right kite for different days. "Deltas, Diamonds and Dragon kites fly well in light to medium winds (approximately 6-15 mph) while Box Kites and stickless Parafoil kites fly better when the winds get a little stronger (approximately 8-25 mph)." Flying is most fun in a medium wind, when you can do more than just hold on for dear life. Look for movement in the leaves and bushes, but not blowing or shaking. The Professor also explains how to get your kite to fly and lists important safety rules.