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Science Fair Project Ideas – Quick and Easy Project Number 1 – Parachutes – Part 2
An experiment, an experiment
This is part 2 of the Science Fair Project Ideas article “Science Fair Project Ideas – Quick and Easy Project #1 – Parachutes – Part 1.”
Once you have all the materials you will need, you are ready to begin. Here is a list of the steps you will take to make your project a reality.
1. You will make each parachute from garbage bags. First you want to cut up the garbage bags to make a flat plastic wrap.
2. You will make several parachutes, each a different size. You will make the parachutes square so that all four sides are the same length. Here are the 4 sizes you can make your own parachutes.
Parachute # Length of each side (cm) Area (cu. cm)
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1 20 400
2 30 900
3 40 1600
4 50 2500
3. Using the garbage bags you made into flat plastic sheets, cut out one of the four different sizes listed in the chart above.
4. Tie a knot in each of the four corners of each of your squares. These knots will be your anchor for the leash.
5. Cut the thread to a length of 40 cm. You will need four pieces of thread for each of your parachutes.
6. Tie the end of one piece of string around each of the knots on all four parachutes. Make sure the string is right above the knot.
7. Hold your parachute in the center of the plastic with one hand and pull all four strands together with the other hand. Tie the free end of all four pieces of string with a top knot.
8. Attach the four cord bundle washers to all four parachutes with twist ties. Make sure all four of your parachutes have the same number of pads or the results of your experiment will be inaccurate.
9. Choose a good place to test. Some places you could look would be a safe balcony, a jungle gym deck in a park, or a platform that is in a safe place. Your parents or teacher may have a suggestion for you.
10. Once you’ve found a good spot, grab your stopwatch and your parachutes. Drop your parachutes one by one from your platform and use the stopwatch to see how many seconds it takes for them to reach the ground. If the parachute does not open on the first try, repeat the test. Test each parachute three times and calculate the average for each parachute. To do this, you take the three test results of one parachute and add all those times together, then divide by 3. That will be the average for that parachute. It’s a good idea to make a table similar to the one shown below for all your data. Remember, all good science fair project ideas and topics will have carefully recorded data.
Parachute # Trial 1 (sec) Trial 2 (sec) Trial 3 (sec) Average time (sec)
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11. You may want to make a graph of your data. To do this, you will make a line graph of the area of the parachute versus the time it takes to land on the ground. Start by creating an area scale using square cm on the left side of the graph, which will be the y-axis, and a time scale in seconds at the bottom of your graph, which will be the x-axis. Place a dot where your data intersects, then connect the dots. You may find that your line will slope up or down. What does this information tell you? What conclusions can you draw from this?
There are several variations you can make to this experiment. The results with the variations will not necessarily be the same as the results you got from the variation you used.
Load – you can change the number of washers, which will change the weight of the load.
Height – You can drop parachutes from a greater distance from the ground
String length – you can make the strings on parachutes shorter or longer.
String Weight – Try using a thinner or thicker string
Material – Try something other than plastic
Shape – Make the parachutes round, triangular, etc. instead of square.
First of all, have fun with your experiment. I hope you found this idea for my science fair interesting. If you want more ideas for science fair projects, check out my other articles, or better yet, visit the website below for a free copy of “Simple Steps to Award-Winning Science Fair Projects.” Good luck!
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