I recently started following a cool blog called Science Sparks. They cover all kinds of great science things to do with your kids, including preschool aged kids, so I was pretty excited to get lost over there a bit. They team up with Inspiration Laboratories for a monthly challenge. This month the challenge is to make a parachute with your kids.
If you have seen any of my recent posts you might know that we have been making lots of things with caps from baby food pouches (also available in big kid applesauce pouches, like Buddy Fruit). When I read about the challenge I thought we should try a basic parachute using a pouch cap for the weight. It turns out the pouch cap was just the right weight for a plastic grocery bag parachute. (Or at least the kind we get from our favorite grocery store.) All we needed were some Fuzzy Sticks (a.k.a pipe cleaners or chenille stems) which we also had on hand. You could also try bread/garbage bag twist ties but it is possible that the 2 Fuzzy sticks added extra weight and rigidity to keep the bag open.
Put 2 Fuzzy Sticks put together to form an x and then fed them through the pouch cap spokes. Hook and twist 2 opposite ends of the fuzzy sticks around the two handles and the other two ends I hooked and twisted through a tiny slit I cut about an inch from the front and back center edges of the bag. Push down a bit on the fuzzy sticks right by the pouch cap so that they splay open.
That's it! Go toss it!
Experiment With Other Materials
We also tried to make one out of a Mylar balloon that was left over from Ladybug's birthday. At first I tried cutting it in a way to keep most of the original seam in tact but that didn't allow it to open up enough so I trimmed it a couple more times. In the end we tested the two against each other and the plastic bag did better pretty much every time. I think the issue with the Mylar is that if it gets crumpled at all it holds the crumple and doesn't open very well. The plastic bag was more forgiving of the crumpling that happens when a 3 year old tries to carry something. 🙂
We did NOT attempt the added bonus of the egg drop. Maybe when she's older…. for now this is easy and fun enough! Given that this uses 2 items that would otherwise be trash or recycled, I think this would make for an easy Earth Day project. They can easily be a group project too, just add markers and remind the kids that the bottom of the bag will be the top of the parachute.
Note: The Fuzzy Sticks used in this project were given to me for free by www.craftprojectideas.com. Thanks to them for the great craft supplies! Some affiliate links are included for your convenience.
Check out the other participants in this challenge as the month goes on!