How to Make a Parachute

It’s time for a new Challenge and Discover – our monthly science challenge link up co-hosted with Science Sparks. Thanks so much to everyone that linked up to last month’s vehicle challenge. This month’s challenge is parachutes! We are challenging you to make a parachute with your kids.

How to Make a Parachute

How to Make a Parachute

A toy parachute typically has three parts: the parachute material, strings, and a person or weight.

Anatomy of a Parachute

The choice of material for each part of the parachute is really up to you. The parachute material itself could be made from plastic, cloth, or paper. We experimented with plastic shopping bags, cotton cloth, tissue paper, and a coffee filter.

How to Make a Parachute

Each of our parachutes is the same size. I cut an 8 inch square out of a plastic shopping bag, a piece of cotton cloth, and tissue paper. The coffee filter was about 8 inches in diameter.

For our strings, we used yarn. Aiden helped cut lengths of yarn of about 8 inches. {I asked him if he wanted the strings 8 inches long or 12 inches long. The answer wasn’t really important, but it did give him some ownership over the design process.}

I cut holes in the corners of each parachute top and tied the string on. I used another short piece of string to tie the 4 strings together and to tie the strings to the weight. I covered the tissue paper holes with tape just to be on the safe side.

I made quick pipecleaner people to use for our weights. Aiden gave them all names. {I love how he adds a pretend play element to even our science projects.}

Testing Different Parachutes

After making our four parachutes, it was time to test them. We headed outside with a step ladder and let each one of them fall.

parachute testing

Here’s a video of the parachutes. Which design do you think was best?

What else could you test? How about these ideas?

  • parachute material type {cloth, paper, plastic – even different types within these}
  • string type {yarn, ribbon, twine, etc.}
  • parachute material size {Do larger parachutes work better? Do they result in a slower descent?}
  • string length
  • type of weight or amount of weight {Change the person/weight attached to the strings. What happens?}
  • height of release
  • wind conditions

Challenge and Discover: Make a Parachute

This month’s challenge is to make a parachute with your kids. Try different designs – which one works better? Can you make a parachute that will allow an egg to safely land? Experiment and have fun!

Share photos and posts about parachutes you have created with your kids. By sharing with us, you are giving us permission to grab one picture and feature your projects on our blogs and social media sites.

You can also share photos of your activities on our Facebook pages or in the Science for Kids community on Google+.

Thanks for sharing your parachutes!


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