Like our recent work with paper planes we continued our investigation into the forces of gravity though constructing parachutes.  Again we went on to the oval and the adventure playground. Unlike the planes this was a little more challenging.

We discovered that

  • the greater the area of the chute canopy – the greater the chance of a slower fall
  • the smaller the area the higher you had to throw the chute in order for it to work.
  • We also found that you had to be careful with the object or weight you would tie your chute to because this was a critical factor in assisting your chute to free fall slowly or plummet.

The Science

We all know that whatever is thrown up always comes down. This is due to a force called gravity – which comes from the centre of the earth and attracts everything (physical things, living beings) to the surface of the earth. This is why we are able to walk on earth otherwise we would be flying around. Little children have great fun experimenting with this idea – especially when it comes to throwing things on the floor and expecting other people to pick them up!

One of the objects that obey this law of gravity is the parachute. In real life, parachutes are very valuable since they used in emergency situations when people need to exit off a plane that is not functioning correctly. The parachute allows a person to land on the ground safely, but requires lot of training. The time taken to reach the ground depends on the weight of the person, the wind speed, parachute size etc. You too can create a parachute at home and experiment with it.


HOW  DOES  IT   WORK? Why doesn’t the toy fall to the ground immediately as normal? Since the toy is attached to the plastic sheet, when it begins to fall air fills up in the canopy and resists or prevents free fall. This force is acting upwards and we still have the force of gravity acting downwards. If the forces were equal in strength, the parachute would not move; it would be stuck in the air, but since gravity is stronger, the parachute is attracted downwards and so it floats down slowly.

Working of a parachute


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