Observations and results
When you tried to fly the kite without a tail, did it spin and roll around a lot, and not really fly at all? Did flying the kite with a 100-cm tail work the best?
Trying to fly a kite without a tail may result in the kite spinning and rolling a lot because the kite is unstable. Adding a tail to a kite helps make it fly more stably by adding some needed weight and drag to its lower end. Adding a small tail, such as the 10-cm-long tail, may help the kite fly a little more stably, but it will still spin and roll around a lot. Adding a longer tail, such as the 100-cm-long tail, should help the kite fly well, allowing it to get relatively high without rolling much. A very long tail, such as the 500-cm-long tail, will help keep the kite from rolling, but the tail may be so heavy that it will prevent the kite from flying very high. Some recommend adding a tail that's around three to eight times the kite's length—but the best way to determine the right tail length for your particular kite is to try it out!
More to explore
Using a Kite as an Experimental Platform from Scientific American
Forces on a Kite from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Kites from Aviation for Kids
How to Attach Kite Tails from Kites in the Sky
Making Kite Tails from My Best Kite
Let's Go Fly a Kite! from Science Buddies
This activity brought to you in partnership with Science Buddies