Shapes of Parachutes vs Drop Velocity
Jelline Hua, Karen Lai
Floor Location : M 121 E
This science fair project was performed to see how the shape of a parachute will affect its drop velocity. We have always wondered why parachutes are circular, and not in other shapes. It occurred to us that most parachutes are round, and it was always strange when rectangular, square, triangle, or other shapes were not often used, even if they all have the same surface area. Using plastic bags of the same material, we cut out circle, triangle, rectangle and square shapes with the same area (five-hundred centimetres squared) to create a parachute of each shape. We connected the weight (washer) and the canopies with strings. Using a timer, we dropped the parachutes at a high point. Then, after gathering up all the data, we used the velocity equation (distance(mm)/time(s)) to calculate its velocity. By taking the average of the eight trials we've tested, the results came out with circle, having the least drop velocity and longest time to land. This experiment can help people understand what shapes of parachutes are best for certain activities. For example, we've discovered that circular parachutes are more often used by those who want to land more slowly, whereas rectangular parachutes are often used for a faster landing.