Sunday, September 13, 2009

Egg Parachutes

A couple weeks ago, I agreed to man a table at the student and parent picnic for the Highly Gifted classes in our school district. My idea was egg parachutes, as the picnic was being held in a park with a large tower--about two stories in height--from which the kids could drop their chutes.

I looked online for some instructions and got a mixed bag of results. Here's the system that I came up with:

  1. Cut out squares in various sizes from plastic trash bags to use as chute material. The smallest that I cut out were 10" x 10", the largest 30" x 30". Bigger chutes seem to work better from greater heights--from shorter heights they don't fill up quickly enough. Small chutes begin working quickly but don't slow the descent enough from big drops.
  2. Buy a roll of twine and cut the strings for the chutes from the twine. I also cut these in varying lengths. For a shorter distance like our tower drop, a shorter set of strings works best--it unfolds most quickly and allows the chutes to unfurl.
  3. Attach each of the strings to the corners of each chute using tape. I found that clear duct tape worked much better than masking or scotch tape.
  4. Attach the other ends of the strings to paper clips.
  5. Take a small Dixie cup and punch four holes around the perimeter. Snap the paper clips into the holes--this lets you change chutes or attach more than one chute to a Dixie cup. You put the egg in the Dixie Cup, which acts as a little gondola.

Put your eggs in small Ziploc bags! This helps cut down on the mess.

This system worked well. If I had to do it again, I would pre-assemble more of the parts--chutes of different sizes, pre-cut strings with paperclips attached--and have the kids do the taping and prep for the cups. I'd also remind my wife to bring the camera so she could take some pictures.

We went through four dozen eggs, all the duct tape and other chute materials, so I think it was a success and interesting to do.

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