The LBD™ Model Parachute takes
most students from 3-7 class periods to finish, and
has been used in math, science and tech ed classes.
The main challenge, contained in its Design
Brief, reads: "Design a parachute from the materials
provided that carries a given load and takes the longest
time to fall a specified distance." Watch Movie 1 to
get a "quick peek" of what is involved. Since
students will be doing both designing and redesigning,
you may want to read the Ways
of Naive Designers about teaching strategies for
Learn what engineering and science ideas lie behind
how parachutes work.
Variables & Effects
Find out about those parachute features that make
a difference on chute performance when changed.
Students generate advice or rules-of-thumb to fellow
designers, based on results of their experiments with
Students don't understand a design challenge just
from reading the brief. Learn how they need also to
discover key criteria of what a chute must
to do to develop the best design possible.
chronologically ordered videos of two science teachers
doing the parachute task.
Ed Video Timeline
Watch day-by-day footage of a tech ed teacher doing
the parachute task and his own follow-up activity
for checking understanding: designing a toy that uses
Read about options to consider when planning the parachute
to students talking about their designing, and review
drawings and reports they wrote on their parachute
activities in the early and later phases of their
Click on the icon or title for pages from the Learning
By Design™ materials for students or teachers,
both of which can be reprinted for classroom use. The
LBD™ Teacher Materials describe science
ideas related to parachutes that will help you help
your students design their chutes.
Some science teachers use this task when introducing
or studying forces, Newton's Laws of Motion,
and terminal speed. Others use it to develop
students' skills in designing experiments, where
controlling variables is key. They also can develop
causal reasoning by having students focus attention
on factors that cause parachutes to partially or fully
collapse when descending.
Tech ed teachers can use parachute as a start-off point
for showing how testing in design can yield design rules-of-thumb that engineers use to
make informed design decisions. Design work in teams
can be done in a number of ways, and presentations of
findings through gallery walks and pin-up
sessions can get introduced.
Math teachers can have their students reason about
the ratios of surface area/weight, which helps
determine an object's terminal speed during freefall.
Students can calculate the rate of descent, and use different approaches
to use estimates to determine
the area of their canopies and percentage of the canopy that the vent
hole occupies, which they read about via a design rule-of-thumb that can help them make key design