Parachutes and the effects of Drag

Today we examined how parachutes work.  We were able to determine that the open parachute was able to capture more air and produce more drag. The effect of the drag was to slow down the descent of the parachute.  In this experiment, both parachutes were constructed using the same materials.  The only variable was that one surface area of the chute was larger than the other.

Look on as the students prepare their parachutes for our lab.

Look on as the students prepare their parachutes for our lab.

The force pushing moving the parachute is the force of gravity.  The crumpled up parachute  was more streamlined, and it required less force to push it towards the ground.  The open parachute was less streamlined. This increased its drag force and slowed its decent.  It took more energy to push the open chute to the ground than the closed and crumpled one.

To view the results of our experiment, click here!

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