At Home With Hands On!

Plummeting Parachutes (8/5/15)parachute drop

MATERIALS:

  • Parachute material (12”X12” garbage bag square, coffee filter, and/or napkin shown on demo)
  • Sticky dots (or stickers of your choice as long as they’re not too heavy)
  • Hole punch (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Parachute weights (paper clips, small figurines, clothespins, etc.)
  • Thin string or kite twine
  • Optional markers or crayons to decorate your parachute

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Choose your napkin and unfold it, laying it flat on the surface in front of you
  2. Cut 4 strings (approximately 18 inches each) to attach to each corner of the napkin
  3. If using a hole punch, punch 4 holes in each corner of the napkin (if using sticky dots and/or stickers, please skip to Step 4)
  4. Attach a string to each corner of the napkin using a sticky dot, or sticker of choice
  5. Pick up the parachute by the middle of the napkin (all strings should be dangling down). Make sure all strings are untangled. (It helps to have an extra hand for Steps 5-7).
  6. Gather all strings together, and then flip the napkin so you are holding it by the strings. (Your parachute should now look like an upside-down jellyfish).
  7. Now attach your object of choice! You can choose anything from a paper clip to a small figurine. Experiment with different weights and how your parachute reacts to air resistance by selecting a variety of objects to tie onto your parachute.
  8. Now head to the front porch, a playground slide or stand on a chair – choose a place to send your parachute off of and watch it go, go, GO! (Just remember to be safe and get an adult’s permission)!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Air Resistance! When you drop the parachute, the weight of your chosen object pulls down on the strings, opening up the parachute. That parachute has a large surface area (larger than that of your small object), and the surface area of the material uses air resistance to slow it down. The larger the surface area the more air resistance and the slower the parachute will drop. However, the weight of your object will also affect how quickly the parachute drops. Try several variations of parachute sizes/materials and object weights and evaluate the differences between them. Have fun!