A parachute is a large area of material which creates air resistance. The air resistance stops the person parachuting from falling too quickly. An umbrella would be a perfect parachute for a teddy bear because a teddy is small and light. The bigger the person or the heavier the object, the larger the surface area of material required. Parachutes are made of nylon, which is very strong and very light.

This clip is from:
Science Clips, Friction
First broadcast:
10 October 2007

After listening to parachutist Alex Fixen's advice in the clip, challenge the class to design and make a parachute that can keep a toy figure airborne. Supply the class with string, scissors and a variety of fabrics. Test the children's designs from the top of a step ladder, or if this does not give enough height, by throwing the parachutes into the air. Encourage the children to always attach the same plastic figure to each parachute, to keep the test fair. They should also repeat-test each parachute a given number of times, to account for small inequalities in the way the figure is launched or dropped. Pupils could time how long it takes for the figure to reach the ground and work out an average falling time for each parachute.