SCHOOL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, SINGAPORE
INVESTIGATIVE SKILLS IN SCIENCE
Names: Liang Zhen Yu, Xavier Ng, Joseph Yong and Anurag M
Group Reference: F
A Frenchman, named Jean-Pierre Blanchard, was probably the first to actually use a parachute situated in an emergency. In, 1793, Blanchard claimed that he had escaped from an exploded air balloon, using a parachute. Despite being an unwitnessed event, Blanchard was the first to create a parachute made from silk. Since then, parachutes have been used quite often in our modern day, for entertainment, or celebrations. For example, during Singapore’s national day, parachuters called the red lions would freefall down to the celebration cite.
For our experiment, we would be creating 20 x 20cm rectangular parachutes, hole punch 4 corners of the parachute and string it to a weight (0.89g), and drop it indoor. From a height of 4.5m we would then take 3 different timings that it took to reach the floor. After that, we would find the average time taken for each material to reach the floor. The 4 materials used are: Plastic (NTUC plastic bag), Aluminium Foil (Diamond brand Aluminium Foil), Paper (News paper) and Nylon bag from Gardens Party One.
1.1 Background Research
We will be using a paper clip as the weight to weigh down the parachute. The paper clip has a total mass of 0.89 grams.
We would be dropping the parachutes from a height of 4.5m above the ground.
We would conduct the experiment / drop test after school.
Parachutes are not the most affordable and common, hence we are finding a cheap alternative to a parachute that almost anyone is able to construct, with the materials that they are able to get hold of in their household.
We want to test which material is able to resist air the most so as to find a good replacement for the current parachutes used today.
We will drop the parachutes from a high ground and at the same time take the time for the parachute to reach the ground. After which, we will tabulate the data and come up with a bar graph to show the information.
1.2 Research Question
How changing the material used to build the parachute’s canopy would affect the time it takes to reach the floor.
If we change the material of the parachute, the time taken for the parachute to drop will change.
1.3.1 Independent variable(s)
The material of the parachute.
1.3.2 Dependent variable
The time taken for the parachute to reach the floor.
Wind, height dropped, length of string, weight, thickness of string, size of canopy, thickness of canopy.
1. 4 materials (Nylon, Plastic, Paper and Aluminium foil)
2. Fishing wire
3. Paper clip
1. Take a parachute of a certain material and drop it from the MPH to the ISH
2. Record the time taken for the parachute to land on the floor of the ISH
3. Repeat steps 1. and 2. 3 times to get an accurate result
4. Get an average time of landing for the material
5. Take another parachute of different material and repeat steps 1., 2., 3. and 4.
6. Compare timings of the 4 different materials for the parachute
7. Conclude which material is the best
2.4 Risk Assessment and Management
May have a chance of falling off the 4.5m area.
May have the chance to cut ourselves with the scissors that is used to cut the material up to fit the size of the canopy.
2.5 Data Analysis
1. Place the time taken for each material into a table and then transfer into a graph
2. Find the average time for each material to reach the floor
3. Conclude which material did the best by having the largest time before reaching the ground
3.1 Sampling sites
Isabelle L.P. Swing (2009 APR 02) How Does Parachute Material Affect Speed? Retrieved from http://www.usc.edu/CSSF/History/2009/Projects/J0130.pdf
3.2 Experiment 1 results
3.3 Experiment 2 results
3.4 Experiment 3 results
3.5 Special observations
Some of the parachute’s timing were invalid as there was wind present when we dropped them. Also, sometimes we would either stretch out hands out or place it above/below the certain height we were suppose to drop them, thus causing an error in the reading.
4.1 Key findings
One of our key findings that amazed us a lot was that plastic was more air resistant than nylon and thus it took the most time for the parachute to fall.
4.2 Explanation of key findings
Since the plastic was very air resistant thus, the time taken for the plastic parachute was the most.
4.3 Evaluation of hypothesis
Since our hypothesis was Changing the type of material used for the canopy affects the time taken for the parachute to reach the ground, our experiment was able to prove that changing the material of the canopy does affect the time taken for the parachute.
4.4 Areas for improvement
We could have thought of a specific release area before releasing as that would both save time and also get us a fairer time as we had to redo some.
5.1 Summary of findings
Plastic took the longest time, followed by paper, aluminium then nylon.
5.2 Practical Applications
From our experiment, plastic took the longest time to reach the floor. From this, we can conclude that plastic might be a suitable replacement for nylon parachutes. However, it might not be strong enough to withstand the force of jumping from a high ground. Thus, the most suitable material is still silk, the current material used for parachutes today.
5.3 Areas for further study
We could have found out the proportions of a real parachute. If we got the actual size, we could scale down the size to fit our weight such that it is more of a real experiment.
We would like to thank Ms Teo for guiding us on this experiment and helping us understand more on what we are doing to set us on the right track. We would also like to thank our parents for allowing us to go to each others’ homes to finish our project.
Ask.com. (2013, AUG 01) What is the Best Material for a Parachute? Retrieved from http://www.ask.com/question/what-is-the-best-material-for-a-parachute
BBC. (2013, AUG 01) Parachutes and air resistance BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/parachutes-and-air-resistance/2183.html
Buzzle. (2013, AUG 01) Parachute Materials - Parachute Fabric Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/parachute-materials-parachute-fabric.html
Isabelle L.P. Swing. (2013, AUG 01) How does parachute material affect speed Retrieved from
Karina Ramirez. (2013, AUG 01) The Effect Of Parachute Material on Parachute Speed Retrieved from http://www.usc.edu/CSSF/History/2008/Projects/J0124.pdf
Karri Weathers. (2013, AUG 01) How Do Different Materials Affect Air Resistance? Retrieved from http://www.education.com/science-fair/article/how-do-materials-affect-air-resistance/
Myonlinefair. (2013, AUG 08) Parachutes: Does the Material Really Matter?
Schlumberger Excellence in Education Development. (2013, AUG 01) Aerodynamics Retrieved from http://www.planetseed.com/posted_faq/48
Skwirk interactive schooling (2013, AUG 01) Air resistance force Retrieved from