Archive for October 5th, 2008

Godzilla flies a kite!

October 5, 2008

Today is the last day of the Niagara International Kite Festival, celebrating all things kite (including the fact that they had to use a kite back in 1848 to start building the first bridge over Niagara Falls. Seriously — there was a Kite Contest and it took 8 days to get a kite to fly from the Canadian side to the US side; once the kite had made it across a stronger string was attached, and then a cable, and from there they had a connection and could send bridge stuff across.)

Godzilla wasn’t able to make it to the festival itself, but he did celebrate by making a kite. He’s pretty crafty so he could have made a really complicated one, but he decided to go simple with this round and use the pattern from Big Wind Kite Factory in Moloka’i, Hawai’i. [This is designed as a classroom project for younger kids, and if you pre-cut the string and use a hole-punch you can avoid scissors altogether. The original instructions have more detail, but no giant lizards.]

To start, Godzilla took an ordinary piece of paper. The original design was for an 8½”×11″ piece of paper, but he used a slightly heavier construction paper because it had subtle glitter built in. Godzilla may be a monster, but he appreciates a good glitter paper.

He sat down and folded it in half width-wise. Apparently this is called a hamburger fold (as opposed to a hot dog fold, which is when you fold it so that it becomes long and skinny, like a hot dog bun).

The fold is on the right-hand side of the paper (on Godzilla’s left). He folded a slight diagonal near that side of the paper. This formed the spine of the kite.

Then Godzilla unfolded it and admired the result.

He taped the fold together, because taping is fun.

The directions at this point say to tape an 8″ dowel across the top. But cooking skewers are a lot cheaper, and he already had those in the cupboard because Godzilla is a bit of a gourmet chef.

This would cause a problem with kids — not just the length, but the fact that it’s a pointy object that would become a weapon in about 3 seconds if given to (our) kids. If this were done with children, I’d recommend chopping the end off to size before starting the whole kite-making. Godzilla, however, had a more unique way of making sure the stick was the right length:

The next step was to attach the string (unless you want to have a paper airplane. Our 8-year old did test it at this point, and it made fancy moves but didn’t really fly very far….). You can use scissors, a hole punch, or your talons to make a hole in the spine to tie the string.

Now, in theory, you attach a tail. Godzilla skipped the tail part because he was afraid if he took any more time this blog post would never get written, and he went straight to the flying. Fortunately there was a nice stiff breeze in the living room — just look how well his kite flies!

Edited 10/6 to add: I meant to mention that I used this kite design in an Inquiry workshop for teachers this summer.   Since you can vary it (or other kite designs) pretty easily — using different weights of paper, changing the fold, adding weights — it’s a great opportunity for kids to create their own experiments to find out which kite flies the longest, the highest, etc.  That’s Godzilla:  helping science students everywhere!