Bamboo Dragonfly

The bamboo dragonfly has been dated back to 500 BC in China and was introduced to Europe in the 18th century. Early European innovators in aviation (flying) were inspired by the concept of the bamboo dragonfly and used it to develop the first helicopters and other airplanes.

Traditionally, it is made up of two pieces of bamboo: a straight bamboo stick inserted into a hole at the center of a separate horizontal piece. The horizontal piece acts as a propeller, and by placing the stick in between both hands and rotating it, the bamboo dragonfly will fly upwards upon release.

Make it at home!

From: 365 Wired and Wonderful Science Experiments by E. Snoke Harris

You will need:

  1. A drinking straw
  2. Scissors
  3. Cardstock
  4. Stapler
  5. Ruler


  1. Cut 2 pieces of cardstock ¾ inch wide and 4 inches long
  2. Make the end of the straw flat and cut a slit down the centre, ½ inch long
  3. Slide the cardstock pieces into the slit and staple them to the straw.
  4. Fold and crease the cardstock pieces down and at an angle to make the propeller blades.
  5. Unfold the blades so they are straight out from the straw but slightly angled
  6. To launch the helicopter, hold the straw between your hands and twist your hands quickly in opposite directions to spin it. Let go and watch it fly!

Suggestion: try different thicknesses of cardstock and bending the propeller blades at different angles – up and down. Does it make a difference to how high it goes?                                                                                                

Starting October 1st the Garden will be open 11am-4pm Friday - Sunday

Explore our Mid-Autumn Moon decorations during your next visit to the Garden and tune in with us on social as we celebrate this annual festival virtually!