Parachute experiment for kids

Gravity and Air Resistance for kids

Gravity is a pulling force that attracts all objects towards each other, everything has gravitational pull, even you or a feather. How much gravity an object has depends on how large it is, or how much mass it has and also how close you are too it. For example, the largest object near us is the Earth, which is why we are pulled to the Earth.

The sun is a very large object, so has a larger gravitational pull but we are much further away from the sun so (thankfully!) we are not pulled towards it! However, the earth is pulled towards the sun, it’s what keeps the planet in orbit.

Gravity is very important to our everyday lives. Without Earth’s gravity we would fly into the air, which might seem fun to try for a few minutes, we certainly couldn’t live life on Earth without gravity. Life on Earth needs the Sun’s light and warmth to survive. Gravity helps the Earth to stay just the right distance from the Sun, so it’s not too hot or too cold.

Air resistance is another force, it’s a pushing force which happens between the surface of a falling object and the air that surrounds it. As the air resistance pushes it slows the rate at which an object falls to earth. The larger an object, the more surface area it has and the more surface area, the more air resistance. So when you dropped the two pieces of paper the crumpled one fell faster because there was less air resistance acting on the paper.

You will need

  • Parachute template
  • Small plastic figure e.g. lego person
  • String
  • scissors
  • Tape
  • Ruler


  • Use the template below, draw around it and cut it out- this is your parachute
  • Poke holes in your parachute as marked on the template
  • Cut 30cm of string (then do this 3 more times)
  • Attach your string to your parachute and tie the loose ends to your character
  • Drop your figure (for extra height you could drop him from upstairs)
  • Time how long it takes for your character to land

What’s the science?

A parachute is a device used to slow down an object that is falling towards the ground.

There are two forces acting on the falling person: Gravity (Upwards) and Air resistance (Downwards)

Without a parachute, the gravity is more than air resistance. However, as the parachute opens, the air resistance increases. Now, air resistance is more than gravity. This slows down the parachute and the person can land safely on the ground.

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