Have you ever ridden a bicycle down a hill and felt the wind on your face? Air is all around you. To move through it, you have to push it out of the way. That means it's pushing back on you, too. That push is called air resistance. Imagine a parachutist jumping out of an airplane and falling to the ground. The opened parachute would use air resistance to slow down its descent. In this experiment, we create a parachute toy using a Ziploc® brand sandwich bag to learn about air resistance and see it in action.

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This experiment is all about opposing forces. As you fall, the force of gravity pulls you down, making you fall faster and faster. But with the help of a parachute, the force of air resistance from the parachute would push against your downward motion, counterbalancing the force of gravity and slowing your fall. (Hint: The more air you push against, the more it pushes back on you.) How much your parachute slows your fall depends on how much air resistance it makes. What might be some ways to increase the air resistance? What if you had a much bigger parachute? Or a different shape of parachute? Experiment and see what happens!

Connections with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions 3-PS2-1

Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.

Test the parachute with different toys and tinker with the design of the parachute to change the effect of air resistance.