Lesson 4

A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes

Designing a Parachute / Grade 3 / Stillwater, MN

The EIE Curriculum

EiE - A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes, L4

Students apply their knowledge of air resistance and aerospace engineering as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their own parachutes. 

Reflection Questions

In what ways, and in what parts of the lesson, does Corrie reinforce the steps of the Engineering Design Process?

Corrie uses the EiE handouts, overhead displays, and thestory book to reinforce the steps of the Engineering Design Process (EDP).

  • Corrie uses the EiE handout packet that includes a page for each child to fill out for each step of the EDP. (3:35, 4:17, and 7:37)
  • Before moving on the Improve step, Corrie displays a graphic of the Engineering Design Process and reviews the Ask, Imagine, Plan and Create steps of the EDP.  (8:30)
  • At the end of the lesson, Corrie refers back to the storybook and reminds students that Paulo’s mother used the EDP in her work as an aerospace engineer. (10:30)

What did students take away from the testing of their first parachute design that helped them when they went to improve their designs?

In their discussion with Corrie after testing their first parachute designs, students reveal that they have a better understanding of how parachutes work and the variables that affect their drop speed.

  • After watching all the parachutes fall, two students were able to see how the length of the suspension lines affects the canopy’s ability to open fully. (9:08 and 9:26)
  • Another student uses gestures and words to describe how “more air will get trapped” in a larger canopy and cause it to drop “very slow.” (9:32)