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Wednesday, May 28

Pitsco Parachute Activity for Elementary Students

As teachers, it is important to find activities that can incorporate many subjects while still being interesting for students. This can sound like a daunting task. Add in end of quarter activities, grading, and holidays, and some people just throw their hands up in the air. This happens, in a real teachers life. But, rather than give up, our amazing fifth grade teacher at our school dove into a great parachute project from Pitsco that was cross-disciplinary, good science, and just plain fun for the kids.

            A few weeks ago our fifth grade teacher was faced with end of quarter activities and holidays all in rush. To help her, I gave her this great activity from Pistco on parachutes. It was bright, colorful, hands-on, and had lots of extension activities that could be done. She took her two fifth grade science classes and spent a few days creating then testing the parachutes. The science classes loved creating the parachutes. They were able to follow the specific directions and needed very little assistance. This is a big win not only for an elementary school teacher but also is also useful for planning for middle school classrooms and high school classrooms that are really large.
            One student in the fifth grade came up with idea to trade some of his colored tissue for another color, thus he made a two tone chute rather than just one color. A great extension activity would be to incorporate art concepts and talk about color wheels. with more time teachers could also research into weather balloons, hot air balloons, or the principals of flight. While making the parachutes, the strings were cut different lengths so that students got to compare different sized parachutes. They could run tests comparing the efficiency of the sizes of strings or also payloads.

            For the fifth graders, launching the chutes was the most fun. They got to outside and play while also testing the different principles of flight.  This was an excellent lesson that helped finish their unit about weather. Also, it fit in nicely with the Next Generation Inquiry Standards. Students were doing hands-on inquiry in an exciting way. Students worked on problem solving and application of design principles. 

As a honesty note, Pitsco sent me the parachute activity for free. Its a good activity that I think anyone could do in their class. 

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