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Uploaded:2016-10-11
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Today is exciting, because Jessi and Squeaks are making parachutes! Tag along to learn how you can make your own, and what forces are being used to make your parachute work!
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SOURCES:
http://alldonemonkey.com/2015/10/20/engineering-for-kids-build-a-parachute/ - Parachute Experiment
http://idahoptv.org/sciencetrek/topics/gravity/facts.cfm - Gravity
http://www.kidsdiscover.com/teacherresources/parachutes-gravity-air-resistance/
https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/falling.html
https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/drag1.html
Jessi: Are you ready for some hands-on science? Because today we’re making parachutes! Have you seen parachutes where you live? Maybe you’ve played with a parachute during recess. Or maybe you’ve seen a skydiver make a safe landing because of a parachute.

But how do parachutes work? They do their jobs thanks to something known as drag! Drag happens when something moves through water or air. When any object moves through the air, it pushes on lots of tiny air particles, and those tiny air particles push back.

And you may not know it, but you experience drag all the time. Have you ever been swinging on the playground and felt wind on your face? That wind you’re feeling is drag! Your body moves through the air, and hits the tiny air particles that are in the way, and those tiny air particles push back on you. A parachute works by making more drag.

For a skydiver, the parachute takes up more space than her body would alone, so more air particles are pushing back to slow her, and the parachute, down! So now that we know how drag works, and how parachutes use drag to slow things down, should we create our own parachute?

Alright! Let’s take a look at a parachute and see what we’ll need. For the parachute itself we’ll want something round and flat, and something that’s light so it doesn’t pull us down instead of holding us up. That’s a great idea Squeaks! We'll use a coffee filter! They're round, flat, and very light. Next, what should our parachute be tied to? I think it'd be fun to use a little cup so it can hold something, like marbles, or maybe a little toy. And to tie our cup to our parachute we’ll need some string. Finally, let’s grab scissors... and... some tape, so we can easily put together our parachute.

First, let’s ask for some help from a grown-up to cut a three pieces of string. And let’s make sure that each piece is the same length. Alright, that's great. Next, we’ll grab our coffee filter and tape the string around the outside edge. For this step, it’s important that we space the string evenly around the filter, so that there’s the same amount of space between each string.

After we’ve attached our string to the coffee filter, we’ll tape each end of the string to the cup. And here, too, we’ll want the strings to be spaced evenly around the top of the cup. And ta-da! We’ve created a parachute! And you know what’s next! That’s right! We get to go have some fun and test it!

Our friend Caitlin said that we could use her balcony to drop our parachutes, so we’ll head on up there. But, before you drop your parachute from anywhere, make sure that you get permission and ask for help! There are lots of places around your house that you can drop your parachute, like from the top of a stairwell, or you can stand on a chair.

Ok, now that we’ve found a good place, we’re going to do a few tests to see how well our parachute works. First we’ll drop one of our little cups with no parachute attached. Then we’ll drop the cup with the parachute attached to see how the parachute helps to slow down our cup. And finally we’ll put our favorite little toy in the cup to see if our parachute can slow that down too. Alright Squeaks, are you ready to see how the cup does on it’s own? 3... 2... 1... Oooo! That was pretty quick.

And now let’s get our parachute ready for launch. 3... 2... 1... Woooo! It’s working! That was great! The cup dropped more slowly this time, because the parachute created drag between its surface and the air. Ok, here’s our last test! Let’s add our favorite little dinosaur figure to the cup and give it a go! 3... 2... 1... Oooff! That was pretty fast! The parachute we have doesn’t create enough drag to slow our toy down by very much.

And even though our parachute wasn’t strong enough for this toy, that’s OK! We’ll keep experimenting! I think we're going to try and make a bigger parachute, and maybe one made of a different material, instead of a coffee filter. And if your parachute doesn’t make enough drag the first time either, get creative! Try out different materials and different sizes!

Did you have fun parachuting with us today? We’re glad that you joined us, and we’re also happy that Google Making Science helped us make this episode, so thanks Google Making Science! To share your parachute photos and stories with us, grab a grown-up and leave a comment down below, or send us an e-mail to kids@thescishow.com. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next time, here at the fort!