How do I make a da Vinci parachute project for kids?

Leonardo da Vinci designed the first functional parachute in 1485. He never built it, though. Scientists have said that his design could work in principle, although no one was brave enough to test the canvas-and-wood contraption until July 2, 2000. In a daring 2.21 km (7,000 foot) descent, expert skydiver Adrian Nicholas proved da Vinci had been right all along. According to the website Dropzone, he said the ride was smoother than most modern devices. The parachute looked like a floating pyramid. A miniature version of da Vinci's parachute is suitable for school projects in several disciplines, such as art, science or social studies.

Fold two sheets of paper in half, so that the short sides meet. Crease the fold with a ruler. Unfold each sheet and flatten it.

Cut along the crease with scissors, so that you have a total of four sheets, each 21.2 x 13.2 cm (8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches).

Mark the halfway point on one of the short sides of each sheet. Using a pencil, draw a line connecting the mark to each of the opposite side's corners. Cut along the lines. You now have four triangles.

Decorate each triangle with markers or coloured pencils.

Line up the triangles on the long sides and tape them together, forming an elongated pyramid.

Cut five pieces of yarn. Four should be 20 cm ( 8 inches) long and one 12.5 cm (5 inches).

Tape one end of the 20 cm (8 inch) pieces to each corner of the pyramid's base. Tie the loose ends together.

Tie one end of your 12.5 cm (5 inch) piece to that knot, the other end to the action figure.


Action figures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It's OK to experiment. Other objects -- toy cars, for example -- will work just as well.


Any project involving scissors requires adult supervision. Don't use your fingernail to crease the paper. The friction creates enough heat to be painful.

Things You'll Need

  • White paper A4
  • Coloured pencils or markers
  • Clear adhesive tape
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Action figure
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About the Author

Jeva Anand began writing in 1988. He has worked as an educator, media-relations coordinator and copywriter, and collaborated with regional and national media such as "Indian Country Today." Anand holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of South Dakota. He currently works as a writer and translator.