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Gliders by Design

Seeds Software

ages 12 to adult

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

Gliders by Design Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Gliders by Design is a program laden with information for those with more than a casual interest in constructing foam, card stock or balsa wood gliders. Amateur builders learn about fundamental technical terms for different glider parts in the Design Guides and Glider Designer folders. Technical terms like nose mass, horizontal stabilizers, aft fuselage, and angle of incidence are defined here. Diagrams (top and side views) illustrate glider anatomy clearly. Another section devotes itself to a discussion of materials and tools, building directions, and ballast choices. The principles of lift (an explanation of the Bernoulli Principle as it relates to flight), trim (center of gravity, center of lift, tail), stability, material density, and glider dimension limitations are analyzed in Design Notes. An Activities file suggests experiments involving wing load, aspect ratio, tail size, glider control surfaces - AOI & AOA, elevators, rudders, ailerons, and rubber band powered flight.

After all this is digested a design computer will "build " your glider. Plug in the dimensions for the various parts of your virtual glider and it will give an estimated flight length and time aloft. Want to see what happens if you increase the wingspan or decrease the fuselage length without building the model? This program will tell you! A red "problem" button appears to warn you of potential design flaws and gives a brief explanation of ways to correct it. These numbers can quickly be changed and reconfigured and the simulated flight recalculated. They even show you an animate clip of its imaginary flight.

When finished, you can print out a copy of your design dimensions to refer to when constructing your actual test plane.

Educational Value
Gliders by Design is a concise, instructive program that covers basic scientific principles of flight design. Concepts are explained in a simple yet adequate manner. It demonstrates the simulated flight of the player's virtual craft and suggests experiments that show how changing the variables involved in aerodynamic design can impact its trajectory. There is a fair amount of information here and it takes time to digest it if one is beginning at ground zero. The good news is Gliders by Design will take you under its wing and guide you through the process.

Kid Appeal
Our young testers did not embrace Gliders by Design, probably because it is not as intuitive as folding a sheet of paper and tossing it into the air. The results are not that immediate and palpable -- it is not a program for the faint of heart. Teenagers and even adults who are willing to invest a little time are more likely to find this interesting, and appreciate its value.

Ease of Use / Install
No problems were encountered using Gliders by Design on our test computers. The program runs directly from the CD. However, it wasn't obvious exactly which folder should be opened first. Shuffling back and forth between folders and files with helpful design details when trying to construct a glider was awkward. It would be wise to print a hard copy of the "design notes", "build guide", and "review of concepts" segments for easy reference when trying to refine your various design models.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Model airplane designers and builders will love this program. Motivated teenagers can use it without adult supervision. Concepts are clearly explained, however many kids may not have the perseverance to get that far. Gliders by Design would be excellent used in a teaching setting where an adult (teacher or parent) guides students through the different aspects of flight design with the fun hands-on experiments suggested. Even younger children could appreciate and understand the variables of flight when presented in this manner. It would be a fantastic science project. But lets face it, even if you only absorb a fraction of the concepts explained, it would be pretty gratifying to build a glider that didn't crash on impact on its maiden flight.

See SuperKids' Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions of this program.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95/98/NT 0 MB hard drive space, 8-16 MB RAM , 256-color monitor, 4x CD-ROM. .

Mac: MacOS 7.3 or later, 0 MB hard drive space, 10MB available RAM 256-color monitor, 4x CD-ROM.

Reviewed on:

  • PentiumIII-550 with 128MB and 32XCD
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