Making a parachute can be a fun and effective way to teach children how air resistance called "drag" works to slow down the fall of skydivers. Prior to making the parachute, explain that as a skydiver is being pulled down by gravity, air pushes the parachute back up. The skydiver is able to fall slowly to the ground because the drag force of the parachute is just a little bit less than the force of gravity. Materials needed for this project can be found around the house or bought for pennies at your local craft shop. After constructing your paper parachute, you can test it out by launching it from a safe, high place and recording the drop time with a stopwatch.
Measure out a 30 cm (12 inch) square on the tissue paper and cut it out.
Tape the ends of the four corners with transparent tape to reinforce the edges and prevent the paper from tearing.
Hole punch each corner of the square where you applied tape and tie an overhand knot in each of the four corners of your square. These knots are used to anchor the string.
Cut four pieces of string the same length -- 40 cm (16 inches) long is recommended. Tie one end of each piece of string around one of the four knots and put string right above the knot.
Hold the centre of the tissue paper sheet in one hand and pull all strings with the other to collect them. Tie the free end of the strings together with an overhand knot.
Attach the metal washer to the bundle of strings with the twist tie.
To test out your paper parachute, drop it from a high but safe place such as the top of a slide or from the top of a tall ladder.
Tips and warnings
- To test out your paper parachute, drop it from a high but safe place such as the top of a slide or from the top of a tall ladder.