# Parachutes are a Drag

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1 Parachutes are a Drag SOARING THROUGH SCIENCE EDUCATION Grade Level(s): 4 th 6 th Length of Time: Two 45-60min classes Technology Lesson: Yes, Powerpoint/Video Note: Teacher has option to opt out of introducing the lesson plan by merely playing the provided video. This video will touch base for Gravity, Mass, and Weight. If you do not think you have time to watch the introduction video then proceed with the lesson plan as follows. If you decide to use the video, ask the probing questions in Engagement and skip the until Exploration when it begins to explain the activity. Sources and Additional Resources: e.xml CONCEPT STATEMENT: This lesson focuses on parachute design. Teams of students construct parachutes from everyday materials. They then test their parachutes to determine whether they can transport a metal washer or clothespin to a target on the ground. It explores how parachutes are used to slow moving objects. They test their parachutes, evaluate their results, and present to the class. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Upon successful completion of this lesson, students will be able to... Identify that drag is the force that slows down a plane as it flies through the air. During this lesson, students will: Design and construct a parachute, Test and refine their designs, Communicate their design process and results. TEKS ADDRESSED: Kindergarten Math: 1:(B)(C)(D)(E), 6:(A)(F), 7:(A), 8:(A)(B)(C) Science: 2:(B)(C)(D)(E), 4:(A), 5:(A) 1 ST Grade Math: 1:(A)(B)(C)(D)(E), 8:(A)(B)(C) Science: 2:(B)(C)(D)(E), 3:(B), 4:(A), 5:(A), 6:(B) 2 ND Grade Math: 1:(A)(B)(C)(D)(E)(F)(G), 10:(B)(C)(D) Science: 2:(C)(D)(E)(F), 3:(B), 4:(A) 3 RD Grade Math: 1:(B)(C)(D)(E)(F)(G), 8:(A)(B) Science: 2:(B)(C)(D)(E)(F), 3:(A), 4:(A), 6:(C) 4 TH Grade Math: 1:(B)(C)(D)(E)(F)(G), 9:(A)(B) Science: 2:(A)(B)(C)(D)(E)(F), 3:(A), 4:(A), 6:(D) 5 TH Grade Math: 1:(B)(C)(D)(E)(F)(G), 9:(A)(B)(C) Science: 2:(A)(B)(C)(D)(E)(F)(G), 3:(A), 4:(A), 6:(D) RESOURCES, SUPPLIES, HANDOUTS:

2 Several sheets of tissue paper, Coffee Filters, Tissue paper, Napkins, Construction paper, Newspaper, Paper towels, String, Tape, Weights (such as washers), Tape, Cotton thread, Scissors, A Meter stick, A small object such as a clothespin, Washer, A stopwatch, Cellophane, A large cotton handkerchief, A ladder for teacher s use only SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS: Small objects, cutting with scissors, and plastic. Teachers should be the only person to climb the ladder and drop the parachutes. ENGAGEMENT Teacher asks probing questions. Gravity is the force which pulls you towards the center of the Earth. Teacher drops two different balls. Gravity acts like a magnet pulling objects together. It s how we keep our feet on the ground rather than floating around the room or floating off into space. Not only does the Earth have gravity, but everything has gravity including our own bodies. However, the Earth s gravity is much stronger than our own gravity. Teacher takes a piece of paper and shows it to the students. Ask them to predict what would happen if you were to throw it up in the air. Then, take a crumpled piece of paper and do the same thing. Throw both papers into the air to test student predictions. Next, ask the students if they could predict where each piece of paper will land if thrown again. The crumpled piece of paper will be easy to predict, but the uncrumpled one will be harder. What is Gravity? What would happen if I put a parachute on the flat paper and crumpled paper? Would they land in the same place? Would they land at the same time? TRANSITION What is weight? What is mass? Are they the same thing? EXPLORATION Mass is the stuff that matter is made of. Weight and mass are often confused with each other. But weight is actually the result of gravity pulling on the mass. We measure weight in many different ways like ounces and pounds. Your mass is the same even if you travelled to different planets but your weight changes due to how strong the gravity is pulling you. So how does mass, weight, and gravity affect an object that is falling? What is

4 ELABORATION used to describe how drag works and explain their findings. TRANSITION Now knowing what we do about how parachutes work as well as drag could we set a goal for the entire class and try to accomplish this goal using what we have already learned? EVALUATION Students for the remainder of their class will work as a whole to create a goal they would like to set for a parachute. This can be to have the parachute land in a specific spot, to fall as slowly as possible, to travel a longer distance, etc. Then have the class separate into groups of 3-4 students and let them take the information they learned by testing out their parachutes to create a parachute that could possibly achieve this goal, making any modifications they need to along the way to achieve this goal. Keep a record on the board of each teams progress until one team or all the teams achieve their goal. As students are experimenting the teacher walks around the classroom asking questions like: What type of material should you use to achieve our goal? Do you think it would be best to use a light weight material or heavier material? Can you use any of your prior knowledge from your first parachutes to create this new parachute?

5 Parachutes Are a Drag You will need: Several sheets of lightweight paper Coffee Filters Tissue paper Napkins Construction paper Newspaper Paper towels String Tape Weights (such as washers) Tape Cotton thread Scissors A Meter stick A small object such as a clothespin Washers A stopwatch Cellophane A large cotton handkerchief Walmart Sacks Introduction What is the purpose of a parachute? What is the role of a parachute in skydiving? Imagine you are jumping out of a plane 10,000 feet in the air. What type of material would you want your parachute to be made of and what size would you want it to be? The design of a parachute is very important, especially in an extreme sport such as skydiving because someone's life is dependent on the parachute functioning correctly. Engineers thoroughly test the materials and designs of parachutes to ensure that they open as intended and reliably, and are strong enough to withstand the air resistance needed to slow skydivers to safe landing speeds. Background A parachute is an umbrella-shaped device of light fabric used especially for making a safe jump from aircraft. Due to the resistance of air, a drag force acts on a falling body (parachute) to slow down its motion. Without air resistance, or drag, objects would continue to increase speed until they hit the

6 ground. The larger the object, the greater its air resistance. Parachutes use a large canopy to increase air resistance. This gives a slow fall and a soft landing. Planning Stage Meet as a team and discuss the problem you need to solve. Then develop and agree on a design for your parachute. You'll need to determine what materials you want to use. Draw your design in the box below, and be sure to indicate the description and number of parts you plan to use. Present your design to the class. You may choose to revise your teams' plan after you receive feedback from class. Design: Materials

7 Parachute Construction 1. Cut a circle (or other shape) from the chosen paper. Make a hole in the center of the shape. 2. Cut six pieces of equal length string and tape them at equal distances around the edge of the shape. 3. Tape the other ends of the string to a weight. Test the parachute. Go outside and drop it from a specific height to see if it flies slowly and lands gently. Or bring your parachute to your teacher to drop from a certain place on a ladder. Record your observations. Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Average Parachute Data Drop Height Drop Time Distance Landed From Target As time permits, repeat the process, modifying the variables of canopy material and shape. Record your observations.

8 Use this worksheet to evaluate your team's results in the Playing with Parachutes Lesson: 1. Did you succeed in creating a parachute that could hit the target? If so, what was your slowest time of descent? If not, why did it fail? 2. Did you decide to revise your original design or request additional materials while in the construction phase? Why? 3. Did you negotiate any material trades with other teams? How did that process work for you? 4. If you could have had access to materials that were different than those provided, what would your team have requested? Why? 5. Do you think that engineers have to adapt their original plans during the construction of systems or products? Why might they?

9 6. If you had to do it all over again, how would your planned design change? Why? 7. What designs or methods did you see other teams try that you thought worked well? 8. Do you think you would have been able to complete this project easier if you were working alone? Explain 9. What kind of changes do you think you would need to make to your design if you needed to transport a heavier payload? Try it! Bonus Repeat the whole experiment using objects of different weight, threads of different length, and parachutes of different shape. Does a circular parachute, for instance, work better than a square one of the same area? What happens if you cut a small hole in the middle of the parachute? Try using different materials such as cellophane or cotton. Which works best? Try to explain your findings. hute/design_a_parachute.xml

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