Parachutes Experiment

When air rubs against an object it creates friction called ‘air resistance’. The size and shape of an object affects how easily it moves through the air. This can be demonstrated in the classroom with some easy-to-make parachutes.


  • Paper plate
  • String
  • Bead
  • Hole-punch.


  1. Punch four holes, evenly spaced, around the edge of a plate
  2. Thread a string through the bead and tie each end to opposite holes
  3. Thread another string through the bead and tie the ends to the other holes
  4. Drop your parachute and watch how it ‘catches’ the air.

Going further:

  1. Group students and have each group decide on a way to change their parachutes (e.g. punching holes in their plates, cutting shapes out of the plates, cutting the plates in different ways, etc.)
  2. Have students predict the order the changed parachutes will fall
  3. Drop the parachutes, making sure they are all dropped from the same height at the same time.

This activity comes from the Hands On Physical Sciences booklet.




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