|Soar Like a Condor
The Aeronautics of the Flight of the Condor
Objectives: Students will:
1. Construct a model condor and fly it.
2. Participate in a contest to see which condor stays
aloft the longest period of time.
3. Research the size, range and habits of the Andean
The Andean condor (Vultur gryphus, scientific name)
has a length of 3-4 feet, and a wingspan
of 9-10 feet. They weigh about 2-16 pounds and nest
in rock cavities in the Andes Mountains
of Patagonia. The Andean condor is black with some
white on the wings. The male condor has
a crest about four inches long and the female condor
has no crest. The condor also has a bald
The range of the Andean condor is commonly found from
Columbia down the Andes to the
southern tip of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego. Andean
condors live at altitudes of 10,000 to
16,000 feet. Condors soar through the air and search
for carrion. Condors are highly secretive.
Condors use rising air currents to fly and avoid
using energy to flap their wings.
(Source: Great Book of
Birds, Edited by Arnoldo Mondadori, Arch Cape Press,
New York, 1980.)
Soar Like A Condor
Target Grade Level:
Middle Level Grades 5-9
- Crayons or colored markers
- Printed model of condor
parts and assembly
- Clear tape or glue
- Open area to fly models outside on a calm day or
gym where there is no wind
- Student science journals
- White (stiff) tagboard
- Graph paper needed to graph each condor and its
1. Click here
to view and print the body of the condor model, and
here for the wings. Both pages have assembly instructions.
2. Color condor parts according to the color key below or visit a
condor web site
to see photos of condors for custom coloration.
The proboscis (appendage) on the head of the male
condor is dark gray to black.
- The face is red
- The beak is a dirty yellow
- The collar is white
- The body is dark gray to black
- The portion of wing which is 2/3 closest to the
body, the bottom two layers of feathers are light
-The remainder of the wing is dark gray to black
3. Cut out and assemble the condor parts using tape
or glue as needed. Glue the two body parts together
and cut a slit on dotted line for wings. Glue or tape
wings together to form one piece and then slide
through body. Cut slit in tail and slide into tail
section of body. You might want to have student glue
model on stiff cardboard and then cut out parts.
4. Test fly assembled condors inside the school gym
if possible .
5. Hold contest to see which condor stays aloft the
6. Graph results of condor flying contest.
7. Research condors in library or on the World Wide
Web and be prepared to present your findings to the class in the
8. Record your research in the student science
Students will present to the class in a Patagonian
Wildlife Conference the results of the research on
condors. (See lesson on PBS International
Wildlife Conference) Students will reflect on
observations about how condors stay aloft and record it
in student science journals following the contest.
Establish a rubric for evaluation of condors made by
students, include work habits, color schemes, ability
to fly, etc.
Construct the Andean model condor and hold a
contest to see which one stays aloft the longest.
Discuss the relationship between the model condor and
a paper airplane.
High School Extension:
Compare and contrast the differences between the Andean
condor and the California condor. Analyze the
environment, needs of the condor, and predict the
future of both species. Access the research on
condors on the World Wide Web.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: California Condor
National Parks Conservation Association
Los Angeles County Natural History Museum