Truly terrible paper plane making instructions

Originally published at: Truly terrible paper plane making instructions | Boing Boing


one can only hope the instructions within are better than those on the cover.

i think this is my favorite picture from the subreddit–



Looks to me like a cover to the real instructions enclosed. The cover design appears to sell the idea that in only a few steps you’ll be making paper airplanes.


For some cool paper airplanes


I noticed there was no USB port either, bummer.



Or bluetooth


When I was a kid I had this book, it landed me in the principles office on at least one occasion.

Weirdly, I had a dream about one of the designs in the book a couple nights ago.

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In “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” Nobel laureate Richard Feynman relates his experience of reviewing 17 linear feet of math & science books for the California State Curriculum Commission and the utter garbage in them that passed for teaching.

It was a pretty big job, and I worked all the time at it down in the basement. My wife says that during this period it was like living over a volcano. It would be quiet for a while, but then all of a sudden, “BLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWW!!!” ­­ there would be a big explosion from the “volcano” below. The reason was that the books were so lousy. They were false. They were hurried. They would try to be rigorous, but they would use examples (like automobiles in the street for “sets”) which were almost OK, but in which there were always some subtleties. The definitions weren’t accurate. Everything was a little bit ambiguous they weren’t smart enough to understand what was meant by “rigor.” They were faking it. They were teaching something they didn’t understand, and which was, in fact, useless, at that time, for the child.


Look, we got a regular Einstein over here! :wink: No but seriously, I never would have thought of that haha

Many, many years ago, the Washington Post’s “Kids’ Post” page printed EXCELLENT directions for the Nakamura Lock, a kind of paper airplane that set a record for longest time aloft or something. Look it up! The directions were great, and I have taught many dozens of chronically “misbehaving” middle-schoolers how to make and toss this long-gliding paper plane. (This was part of my job -literally- to distract them from constantly berating and clobbering each other. I was giving their creativity a non-aggressive outlet! Really!) But to build a great airplane, like the Wright Brothers taught us, balance is crucial. Make your creases SHARP and EXACT. Sloppy work leads to nose dives or stalls.


I heard that both History and Science are taught falsely. At each increase in sophistication, the falsehoods are whittled away. So yeah, in US grade schools you learn that the Pilgrims and Native Americans had a feast together for Thanksgiving. Later you learn that the “pilgrims” found and helped themselves to a large cache of corn they found before they even met the natives. That the native population had been nearly wiped out by small pox contracted from whalers/fishermen from Europe, etc. etc. before the Pilgrims arrived. And that numerically half of the “pilgrims” weren’t religious zealots, but adventurers hoping to strike it rich in the new world. Physics is the same, except I never studied it beyond high school so I have no useful examples.

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No, no, the instructions are obvious!

  • Stack three sheets of coloured paper on top of one another

  • Fold one corner over, as shown

  • Turn the paper over so the green sheet shows, cut the edges and fold it until you achieve the shape indicated. Finished!

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It’s from the back of a box of Nabisco Teddy Grahams snack cookies. [:teddy_bear:-shaped :cookie: :cookie: :cookie:]

(My guess would be that there’s nothing inside but cookies, though I wouldn’t know from experience.)

They were false. They were hurried. They would try to be rigorous, but they would use examples (like automobiles in the street for “sets”) which were almost OK, but in which there were always some subtleties

Yeah, the part where members of a set have to move to the opposite side for street cleaning always seemed a bit dubious to me.

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I’m not a historian so I can’t really comment on the pilgrim story. I am a physicist by training with a strong interest in the history of science so I can offer some insight there.I wouldn’t describe science as being taught falsely so much as streamlined and simplified. There a lot of material to cover so by necessity we can’t go too deeply into the many missteps, wrong directions and intricacies.The problem with this is that we fail to convey how science advances in practice. Our knowledge comes across as inevitable and sterile… When the truth of how we actually advance is full of accidents, false starts, serendipity, and human drama. Traditionally this rich history isn’t part of the modern curriculum. That said, there’s a lot of really good content being created on YouTube that addresses this deficiency. And if you want to go back and look at some great pre-Internet history of science videos, treat yourself to James Burk”s “Connections” series.

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