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By Audra D.

This simple science project is easy to make out of household materials you probably already have on hand. This parachuter project is guaranteed to lead to tons of fun and exploring some basic physics concepts skydivers use every day! Be sure to talk together about the science behind why this experiment works and don’t be afraid to explore. While you’re at it, why not check out these parachute titles from Hoopla: How Do Parachutes Work? and Parachute.   

Materials needed

  • Two pipe cleaners/chenille sticks
  • One regular coffee filter 
  • Markers, stickers, or other decorating materials

Instructions

  1. Start by decorating your coffee filter! You can use markers, stickers, or any other decorating supplies. This filter is going to become your parachute.
  2. You’re going to make a pipe cleaner person to be your parachuter. Start by folding the pipe cleaner in half, and making a circle on the bent end. Then, twist this circle to become the head.
  3. Make two doubled-up bends for arms, and twist again to keep them secure. Then shape the legs. The steps to make your parachuter are also drawn below!

  4. Take your second pipe cleaner, and poke it through the edge of the coffee filter. Bend it over one or two times, so it stays.
  5. Loop the arms of your parachuter through the pipe cleaner. Poke the free end of the pipe cleaner through the other side of the parachute, and secure. Your parachuter should hang down in the center.
  6. Take your parachute somewhere high to try out the experiment. You can use a balcony, jungle gym, or top of a slide. Remember to ask for help if you need it. When you’re ready, let go and watch your parachuter float safely down to the ground!

      Questions to ask

      • Does the size of the parachute make the person fall slower or faster? Try using a cupcake liner, or cut your coffee filter to be smaller to find out.
      • What happens if you use longer strings? Try doubling the length of the strings and see what happens.
      • How does the weight of the parachuter affect the experiment? Try adding paperclips or beads to the pipe cleaner legs and see if it falls slower or faster.

      How it works

      There are two forces at work on something that is falling toward the earth, gravity and air resistance. Gravity pulls things back down toward the Earth while air resistance pushes the opposite direction to slow the object down. When a skydiver is falling, the force of gravity is great. Skydivers can reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour when falling! When the skydiver opens their parachute, they create more air resistance to push opposite the force of gravity. This helps slow them, down to a safer 14 miles per hour.

      Would you be willing to try jumping with a parachute?

      Audra D.
      Adult & Teen Librarian

      Audra D.


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