Kids STEM Activity: Air Resistance
Kids STEM Activity: Air Resistance: Parachute Drop
When my brother and I were kids, we would beg our mom for quarters for the army parachute men from the vending machine. Well, I would usually spend mine on bubble gum, then play with my brother’s parachute man toy later. Such fond memories of him and I continuously searching for higher and higher places to throw them off and watch them gently land when the chute opened. We would climb walls, fences, tress, and even to the roof of our house. We would hit the stop watch and make guesses of how long it would take to land from different heights.
This is a super simple and fun way to expose your kids to air resistance and gravity. Any type of activity that gets your kid moving, thinking, and fully immersed in an experiment is when learning will happen. Here is what you will need:
STEM Activity: Parachute
Action figures or small people
8 pieces of equally cut string (about 12 inches long)
Plastic shopping bag
Take your marker and draw an octagon shape on the side of a plastic shopping bag.
Cut it out
Take your scissors and puncture a small hole on each side of the cut out octagon.
Tie a string through each hole and double knot it to make more secure.
Take all 8 strings, gather them together at the end, and tie them or secure them around the action figure.
How to explain:
Take your action figure with the parachute and take a similar shaped action figure without a parachute. Ask your child which one they think will fall to the ground faster. Why? Test their theory. Drop both at the same time from a high point; we chose to climb to the top of a play structure at the park. Once you have demonstrated them both falling, ask them which one fell to the ground faster. Ask them why, again, to see if they have figured it out. Explain that the air is gathering under the parachute and slowing it down. This air being gather is resisting the parachute from falling as fast as the action figure without the parachute. Air resistance.
Use a stopwatch to time how fast the action figure with the parachute will fall from different heights and points on the play structure; the top of the slide, vs. the top of the stairs. You can make several different parachute people from various sizes and weights and test which one will fall faster and try to guess why.