Home Works Elementary Education Distance Learning Curriculum

Developed by Meredith L.

Edited by Maggie M.

Photo of Meredith L

Essential Question:

How does gravity affect objects on Earth?

Background Knowledge:

Students should know the following:

  • Gravity: a force of attraction that pulls together all matter (anything you can physically touch) 
  • Air resistance: the force air exerts against a moving object; as an object moves, air resistance slows it down 
  • Speed: how fast or slow an object is moving 
  • Parachute: a device used to slow the descent of a person or object falling through the atmosphere 

Materials:

  • Plastic grocery bag 
  • Scissors 
  • Four 12-inch lengths of yarn, ribbon, or string 
  • Handheld hole puncher or writing utensil to punch through the cup 
  • Disposable paper cup 
  • Something to be used as a weight (ex: small rock, a pack of gum, a pencil, a small stick, coins) 
  • A piece of paper and pencil to record data 
  • An elevated surface to stand on (ex: steps, a table, a ladder, a bed, a chair) 
  • *Optional* markers, crayons, colored pencils, stickers to decorate the paper cup 

Safety Protocol:

  • An adult should help the student punch holes into the cup if a handheld hole puncher is not available to be used 
  • The student needs to make sure that nothing is in the area where the parachute will be land 
  • An adult should be around when the student stands on the elevated surface to make sure he or she remains safe 

Activity Procedure:

Part 1: Constructing the Parachute

Step 1:  Collect the necessary materials listed above.

Step 2: Cut the handles end off of the plastic grocery bag and dispose of the handles. Punch four evenly spaced holes into the opening side of the plastic grocery bag

Step 3: Punch four evenly spaced holes into the top of the paper cup.

Step 4: Cut four 12-inch lengths of yarn, ribbon, or string (total of 48 inches).

Step 5: Tie one end of each piece of yarn, ribbon, or string to the top of the paper cup where you made the four holes. Tie the other end of each piece of yarn, ribbon, or string to the holes you made in the plastic grocery bag.

Part 2: Launching the Parachute

Do you think adding a weighted object to the cup of the parachute will cause the parachute to fall slower or faster? Why? 

Step 1: Make a prediction for what you think will happen when you launch the parachute. Record prediction on a sheet of paper (see chart below in “Resources”).

What makes a parachute slowly descend once dropped from an elevation? 

Step 2: Find an elevated surface to launch your parachute from.

Step 3: Launch the parachute from the elevated surface and then record your observations. 

Did the parachute fall to the Earth fast? Did it land on the paper cup? Did your parachute break? 

Step 4: Fix the parachute if any part of it broke during the first launch. 

Step 5: Place the weighted object into the paper cup part of the parachute. Launch the parachute from the elevated surface and then record your observations. 

How did the unweighted and weighted parachutes fall differently?  

Step 7:  Compare and contrast the unweighted parachute to the weighted parachute on the same sheet of paper you recorded your observations. 

Step 8: With parent/guardian permission, share the results of your activity on social media using #AUHomeWorks!

PredictionObservation
When parachute falls with no object
When parachute falls with a weighted object

Last modified: November 12, 2020