Flying Helicopter Seeds – science investigation

Helicopter seeds are a type of seed that spin as they fall from a tree. The spinning movement and the fact that they are light and can catch the wind allows them to travel further from the parent tree than if they just dropped to the floor.

This is one method of seed dispersal used by plants and trees to reduce the amount of competition around the parent plant for light, water and nutrients.

This activity uses simple paper spinners to demonstrate how helicopter seeds fall from a tree.

Which trees have helicopter seeds?

Ash Trees – these helicopter seeds have one wing and hang in bunches from the tree.

Norway Maple

Sycamore – symmetrical wings in a V shape

Make your own seed helicopter

You’ll recognise these as simple paper spinners from a previous science activity, but they work really well for demonstrating this kind of seed dispersal.

You’ll need


Paper clip or hair clip


How to make a helicopter spinner

Cut out a rectangle from paper like the image below using scissors. Any size works well.

Cut down the dotted lines and attach the two ends together with a paper clip.

Hold the spinner as high as you can and drop.

Watch as the helicopter spins to the ground just like a seed.

Investigation ideas

Try dropping different-sized helicopters from the same point and measure how far they travel from the drop point.

Drop the helicopters inside and outside. Design an investigation to find out If the wind makes a difference to how far they travel.

Add extra weight to the helicopter and try the investigation again.

Do smaller helicopters spin faster than large helicopters?

Print the experiment instructions

Investigation sheet

Another idea for learning about a different type of seed dispersal is to make a sticky seed pod!

If you need a bit of help identifying different trees, try this Tree Identification app from The Woodland Trust.

I have lots more science experiments for autumn you might like and some autumn STEM challenges too!

Last Updated on September 27, 2023 by Emma Vanstone

The post Flying Helicopter Seeds – science investigation appeared first on Science Experiments for Kids.

Science Experiments for Kids Read More 

Leave a Reply