Thursday, March 13, 2014

Super Secret Science Challenge FIVE: Parachutes

This week we have new heroes on our side: The B Team. They need to parachute into enemy territory and bug Mr. Fluffy's Lair! Are you the right Science Officer for the challenge? Let's find out, with this week's Super Secret Science Challenge!

Today's list of suggested supplies are:

  • 1 yard of string
  • 1 plastic shopping bag
  • 1 sheet of newspaper
  • 3 sheets of copy paper
  • 1 lunch bag
  • 5 coffee filters
  • 1 8.5x11” piece of aluminum foil
  • A small paper cup
  • 8 paper clips, assorted
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Various tapes -- invisible, masking, duct, etc.
  • A small toy as the pilot
To make this challenge even more fun, give your scientist two goals: create a parachute with the longest hang time possible and try to land right on a target. I drop my parachutes from a height of 2 meters (roughly the height of a door frame) with the feet of the "B Team" member as the bottom of the unit. Encourage students to create more than a single parachute for the challenge, as it can be tough to meet both objectives with one or, allow students to move the target to where they predict the parachute will land.

A parachute is a fairly simple creation. It's primarily composed of a canopy made of some type of material, which creates lift (and drag) through the frictional force of air resistance. The parachute is connected to the pilot, who is held in a harness, by lines that connect to the canopy. The pilot is pulled by gravity towards the ground.

Good luck Agents! Hope you have fun making your creations!

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