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Make Parachutes

by Charlotte Jain (follow)
Science (7)      Parachute (1)      Plastic Bag (1)     
A fun, hands on science project to catapult a LEGO man safely from a height while learning about the power of air resistance. Design your own parachute with a few household items and watch the bag billow out as it falls, catching the air and slowing down as it goes!


A plastic bag
String or ribbon
A small object. This will act as a weight. A small action figure works perfectly.

Set up

Lay the plastic bag flat on the table.

There are 2 possible ways to make a parachute from the bag. One way might work better than the other for certain objects, so try them both out to see which works best for you.

Either start with a whole bag, or cut a square from the bag. If using a whole bag, tie string to both handles. If using a square, tie string to each of the square's 4 corners.

Whichever way you are using, tie or sticky tape the ends of the strings (that aren't yet attached to the bag or piece of bag) to the object acting as a weight.

Here, I've used a small cherry as a weight, mostly because all the LEGO figures seemed to have walked away.

Cut 1-2 small holes in the top of the parachute. This will help the parachute fall straighter by allowing air to pass slowly through the top instead of spilling out over the sides.

Climb on a chair (be careful!), with the parachute in hand.

Drop the parachute with its weight and watch it float.

If the parachute sinks to quickly, try using a lighter object.

How it works

The aim is to make a parachute that descends slowly from a height to the ground, so that your weight (or unsuspecting LEGO person) will have a comfortable landing.

When the parachute is released, the weight drags down on the strings. As the parachute falls, a large surface area of the plastic bag opens up. This surface area creates resistance against the air as it falls.

Air resistance makes the parachute open up and slow the fall of the weighted object.

The larger the surface area, the greater the air resistance will be, and therefore the slower the parachute will fall!

#Plastic Bag
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