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Outdoor Learning Day 2 – Parachutes
March 6, 2012

This project involves measures, shape, construction, area, surface area, speed and averages, phew!

Basically students construct the da Vinci parachute which is basically a square based pyramid. Then they test their parachutes and re-design them to increase the surface area! This is the Powerpoint I use for this project, I would run this over three lessons as follows:

Lesson 1:

Play the video on slide 2 and get students to think about where the maths is in parachuting (they should come up with lots of interesting ideas). Then show them the net for the da Vinci parachute, give them (in pairs) a piece of paper (sugar paper works best) and let them construct the parachute. They need to cut a hole in the top of it about 1cm in diameter, then attach a weight of their choice (a small blob of blue-tack works well). Then they can design a data collection sheet to use in lesson 2.

Lesson 2:

You need to find somewhere the students can drop their parachutes – if you have an upstairs room then they can drop them out the window, or even better a gym with a viewing balcony. Students drop their parachutes and the other member of the pair has to time the drop, they can do the best of three and then calculate an average and the range. Back in the classroom they can then discuss how to improve the design – hopefully they will see they need to increase the surface area. So get them to calculate the surface area and then design a new parachute with a greater surface area.

Lesson 3:

Students finish constructing their re-designed parachute and then test them again, back in the classroom they can compare their two sets of results using an average and the range and conclude which design was better.

This project was planned with the brilliant maths department at All Saints Centre for Learning in Merseyside. Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our NumberLoving Store.

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Sharon Derbyshire

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