Flying seeds - the simplest
Helicopters in the world!

Do it yourself

Do you love the way the seeds of maple trees, lime trees & co. screw through the air? Here you can find out how they do it and you can easily build a paper helicopter based on nature's design. Do you think it will fly with only one wing? Check it out yourself!


  • Suitable for age group: 10 years and older

  • Especially interesting for:
    Handymen, bionics fans and soon-to-be engineers

  • Duration: approx. 30 minutes to 1 hour


  • You need:

  • Maple seeds

  • Linden seeds

  • Helicopter paper sheet (you can download it here)

  • Scissors

The experiment

Step 1: Examine flying seeds

Take a close look at the different seeds you have found. Do they have one wing, or several? Let the seeds fly from an elevated position (e.g. from the ceiling, staircase, or window). What happens? How do the flying seeds behave in the air?

The trajectories of different seeds

In these beautiful photographs the trajectories of various seeds are captured. As you can see, each seed draws its own unique work of art into the air.

© Roy Hessing Photography

Step 2: Print paper helicopter sheet

Download the template for the paper helicopter and print it out. Get a pair of scissors ready and ask adults to help you if necessary.

Step 3: Cut out

Now cut out your paper helicopters. This is very simple: cut at all solid lines. Be careful not to cut the dotted lines!

Step 4: Fold

Now fold the paper along the dotted lines, as shown in the pictures. The result is a stem with a weight and two rotor blades that point in opposite directions.

Step 5: Fly off!

Now you can finally let your paper helicopter fly following nature's example. Again, this works best from a higher position. Observe how your helicopters spiral through the air, much like the flying seeds.

Step 6: Flying with only one wing?

Finally, the advanced flight tests must be completed: Cut off one of the two wings of your helicopter. Do you think it can still fly?
Try it out!

Have fun with your
flight attempts!

Naturkundemuseum Bayern
Botanisches Institut
Menzinger Str. 67
80638 München, Germany

Phone: +49 (0)89 178 61-422
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© BIOTOPIA - Naturkundemuseum Bayern 2019

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