Sanity Savers: Gray’s Parachute Experiment

Sponsored by: National Grid

Written by: Dan Walsh
STEM Educator

Supplies ideas:

Tissue paper, tin foil, string, toilet paper tube, construction paper, string, scissors, tape, and a toy figure 

Sanity Savers: Gray's Parachute Experiment

Length:

Build time: 5-20 minutes

Academic Subjects:

Science

 Directions for Gray’s Parachute Experiment:

This week we are celebrating Adeline Gray! Gray was a parachute rigger that tested out the first nylon parachute. Before this time parachutes had been made from cotton. Cotton parachutes couldn’t be used in bad weather such as rain or wind. Therefore, another material had to be tested. Today we are going to test out different materials to build a parachute out of it and see which works best!   

1.) Collect random objects from around the house. I tried tin foil, a plastic bag, and tissue paper.

2.) First build a seat for your figure to fit in. To do this, cut one-inch slits into a toilet paper tube.  Then fold the tabs on top of each other and glue or tape them down.

Sanity Savers: Gray's Parachute Experiment
Sanity Savers: Gray's Parachute Experiment

3.) Next cut out 4 equal sized pieces of string about six inches long each. Glue or tape the pieces of string onto the seat. Keep them equally distant in the shape of a square.  

Sanity Savers: Gray's Parachute Experiment

4.) Each material that you use for the parachute will follow the same directions. Lay the material on the table, place your parachute seat in the middle of the material. Stretch your strings out to the corners and poke 4 small holes in the material.

Sanity Savers: Gray's Parachute Experiment

5.) Slide your string through the holes. Tape or knot the other end.  

6.) Take your parachute to the testing zone! Place a piece of construction paper on the floor and see if you can land your parachute on the square. Predict how your parachute will fly. Will it go fast or slow? We want the parachute to fall slowly to ensure the toy figure lands okay. Hold your parachute by the material and drop it!

Sanity Savers: Gray's Parachute Experiment

Vocabulary:

Aerodynamics– the science or practice of going through the air. We study aerodynamics as we tested the parachutes!

Aviation– the practice of using an aircraft. 

Check out our other Sanity Savers posts here!