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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Toy Drop Parachutes

Swap game night with invention night and kick it off with this fun STEM activity for kids! You will be challenged to create your own parachute in order to help your toy animal safely land.

Materials Needed

  • Deer toy or stuffed animal
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Objects found around the house or classroom
  • String
  • Plastic bags

At-Home Instructions

The challenge is to safely parachute a toy deer (or another toy of your choice). With a parent’s permission, search the basement, recycle bin, junk drawer and garage for items you can use to construct your parachute.

Old clothes and grocery bags are great items, but don’t stop there. What items can you upcycle to build a parachute for a deer? When everyone has finished, have an adult safely stand on a high space (such as an outdoor stairwell, the top of the slide at the park or launch from a window) and gently toss your creations.

Have your family count down from 10 as you launch the parachutes. Cheer when deer lands slowly and safely. Make modifications and retest to improve the safety of the landing as many times as needed! 

Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications!

Break students into teams to create their parachutes. If weather allows, test your parachutes from the top of the slide or playset on the playground. If you need to stay inside, consider using a stage or bleachers in the gymnasium to test the parachutes. After the first trial, discuss what was successful and what could be improved and allow each team 10 minutes to make modifications before retesting as a class.

What are we learning?

Why does the parachute work? When you toss the parachute up, if the canopy fills with air, the deer will slowly land on the ground. (At least slower than when not attached to a parachute!) Air resistance is pushing the parachute upward, and gravity is pulling the parachute downward. If the forces were equal in strength, the parachute would not move; it would be stuck in the air. But since gravity is stronger, the parachute is attracted downward and it floats down slowly, protecting the deer from impact.

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