Skydive Into Forces

Forces, which we might instinctively describe as pushes and pulls, are acting on us at all times, but we cannot always see them. This hands-on lesson offers a fun opportunity to explore “invisible” forces like gravity and air resistance. Students will build parachutes and investigate how they allow skydivers to safely land.

Learning Objectives

  • Use an arrow to represent a force.
  • Make a schematic drawing of a falling object indicating gravity, air resistance, and speed.
  • Predict how and explain why changing the air resistance of an object affects how fast it falls.
  • Explain how parachutes can create safer landings.

NGSS Alignment

  • 3-PS2-1 . Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.

Materials

A ruler, scissors, string, tape, a hole punch and a small figurine

For each group of 2 students, you will need:

  • Tissue paper or a plastic bag
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Tape
  • Hole punch
  • Twine
  • Small action figure or miniature doll that may be dropped on the floor. If you do not have an action figure, use any small, dense object such as a piece of clay, an eraser, a measuring spoon, etc.

Background Information for Teachers

This section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.

Scientists refer to a push or pull as a force. Forces can change the movement of an object (its speed and/or direction), but they do not always do so. Imagine a grocery cart standing still. You can push on the handlebar to make it move (Figure 1, top left). If it is already moving, and you push it, you can make it move faster (Figure 1, top right).

Drawn figures push on a shopping cart to change the direction and speed it travels

Figure 1. Pushing on a shopping cart can change its motion. Red lines indicate the cart’s speed, and blue arrows indicate a push. A push can make a cart move (top left), and an additional push can make it speed up (top right). Pushes in opposite directions can cancel each other out (bottom).

It gets a little more complicated when more than one force acts on an object. Imagine pushing the grocery cart again, but this time, another person is pushing equally hard on the opposite side of the cart. The two opposing forces would cancel each other out, and the cart’s movement would not change (Figure 1, bottom). Most often, objects have many forces acting on them. We often do not realize this because some forces are canceled out by others and thus do not affect the motion of the object. For example, the shopping cart has mass, so gravity pulls it down—but the cart does not fall, because the ground pushes back with equal strength in the opposite direction.

In this lesson, students will study how forces can affect the speed of a falling object by looking at a skydiver. Without an open parachute, the skydiver is in free fall. Gravity pulls him or her down, and almost nothing is pushing back up to slow down or prevent the fall. The situation changes when the parachute opens. Suddenly, a lot of air particles need to move out of the way to let the open parachute pass. The air pushes the parachute—and the skydiver hanging from it—up, as shown in Figure 2. This push, or force, is called air resistance or drag. It has a direction opposite to the movement. In this case, this force acts in the opposite direction to gravity. As a result, the force of gravity is partially cancelled out and the skydiver does not gain speed as quickly. The skydiver falls at a slower pace and is able to safely land.

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Photo of a skydiver where gravity pulls the skydiver downward and air resistance pushes the parachute upward

Figure 2. Forces acting on a skydiver coming down with a parachute.

As shown in Figure 2, scientists represent forces with directional arrows. The arrow points to where the force pulls or pushes. Gravity always pulls objects down, and air resistance always points against the motion of the object it acts upon.

Technical note: Scientists typically use arrows to represent forces and speed. To avoid confusion, in this lesson we will only use arrows to represent forces.

Skydive Into Forces

Forces, which we might instinctively describe as pushes and pulls, are acting on us at all times, but we cannot always see them. This hands-on lesson offers a fun opportunity to explore “invisible” forces like gravity and air resistance. Students will build parachutes and investigate how they allow skydivers to safely land.

Learning Objectives

  • Use an arrow to represent a force.
  • Make a schematic drawing of a falling object indicating gravity, air resistance, and speed.
  • Predict how and explain why changing the air resistance of an object affects how fast it falls.
  • Explain how parachutes can create safer landings.

NGSS Alignment

  • 3-PS2-1 . Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.

Materials

A ruler, scissors, string, tape, a hole punch and a small figurine

For each group of 2 students, you will need:

  • Tissue paper or a plastic bag
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Tape
  • Hole punch
  • Twine
  • Small action figure or miniature doll that may be dropped on the floor. If you do not have an action figure, use any small, dense object such as a piece of clay, an eraser, a measuring spoon, etc.

Background Information for Teachers

This section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.

Scientists refer to a push or pull as a force. Forces can change the movement of an object (its speed and/or direction), but they do not always do so. Imagine a grocery cart standing still. You can push on the handlebar to make it move (Figure 1, top left). If it is already moving, and you push it, you can make it move faster (Figure 1, top right).

Drawn figures push on a shopping cart to change the direction and speed it travels

Figure 1. Pushing on a shopping cart can change its motion. Red lines indicate the cart’s speed, and blue arrows indicate a push. A push can make a cart move (top left), and an additional push can make it speed up (top right). Pushes in opposite directions can cancel each other out (bottom).

It gets a little more complicated when more than one force acts on an object. Imagine pushing the grocery cart again, but this time, another person is pushing equally hard on the opposite side of the cart. The two opposing forces would cancel each other out, and the cart’s movement would not change (Figure 1, bottom). Most often, objects have many forces acting on them. We often do not realize this because some forces are canceled out by others and thus do not affect the motion of the object. For example, the shopping cart has mass, so gravity pulls it down—but the cart does not fall, because the ground pushes back with equal strength in the opposite direction.

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In this lesson, students will study how forces can affect the speed of a falling object by looking at a skydiver. Without an open parachute, the skydiver is in free fall. Gravity pulls him or her down, and almost nothing is pushing back up to slow down or prevent the fall. The situation changes when the parachute opens. Suddenly, a lot of air particles need to move out of the way to let the open parachute pass. The air pushes the parachute—and the skydiver hanging from it—up, as shown in Figure 2. This push, or force, is called air resistance or drag. It has a direction opposite to the movement. In this case, this force acts in the opposite direction to gravity. As a result, the force of gravity is partially cancelled out and the skydiver does not gain speed as quickly. The skydiver falls at a slower pace and is able to safely land.

Photo of a skydiver where gravity pulls the skydiver downward and air resistance pushes the parachute upward

Figure 2. Forces acting on a skydiver coming down with a parachute.

As shown in Figure 2, scientists represent forces with directional arrows. The arrow points to where the force pulls or pushes. Gravity always pulls objects down, and air resistance always points against the motion of the object it acts upon.

Technical note: Scientists typically use arrows to represent forces and speed. To avoid confusion, in this lesson we will only use arrows to represent forces.

Everything to Know About Indoor Skydiving

Indoor skydiving is quickly gaining popularity as a fun alternative to outdoor skydiving. So much so that it has been widely petitioned to be considered an Olympic sport!

You must be wondering how indoor skydiving works and why anyone would opt for it when they could just as well skydive over some beautiful coastline. We’re here to tell you why indoor skydiving is, in its own way, a thrilling experience.

About Indoor Skydiving

indoor skydiving

What is Indoor Skydiving?

You know how you prepare to freefall for 5-7 minutes out of an airplane while skydiving? Indoor skydiving is nothing like this!

If you’re not prepared to try jumping out of an airplane, indoor skydiving is the next best option. You don’t have to worry about nerves and anxiety, or about jumping out of an airplane from a height of 13,000 ft. Indoor skydiving is carried out in a controlled, safe environment where you simply float on a cushion of air in large, circular wind tunnels. Indoor skydiving is completely safe, convenient and cost-effective.

You will be monitored in a completely controlled environment by licensed professionals. Various sport centres in the world host indoor skydiving facilities, like Dubai and Singapore.

indoor skydiving

How Does Indoor Skydiving Work?

Each indoor skydiving facility is designed and equipped with large tunnels. Heavy gusts of wind are pushed vertically upwards through these tunnels; in this way, you’re held up by said gusts of wind, making it seem like you’re flying. This gives you the thrill and experience of skydiving, without the pressure of having to actually jump out of an airplane.

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These vertical tunnels are enclosed by strong, thick glass and are about 10 m in height. They counter gravity through ‘drag’ and not ‘lift’. Operated by giant fans, heavy winds at approximately 200 km/h are pushed upwards, on which a human body floats in mid-air, similar to the experience of an actual freefall. The fan speed is adjusted to accommodate the weight of each skydiver. Each wind tunnel comes prepared with a safety net at the bottom to prevent any rare mishaps.

Know Before You Go Indoor Skydiving

Indoor skydiving is a great option to consider if you’re afraid of heights or would like to experience freefall without skydiving from an airplane. Here are a few things to know before you try indoor skydiving:

1. You will be assigned a flight instructor who will train you before your indoor skydive. They will take you through all the necessary indoor skydive positions and movements to adapt, what to expect, how to float and more.

2. You will be given a flight suit, goggles, shoes and earplugs before your skydive.

3. Practice the arch position repeatedly! Once you perfect this move, your indoor skydiving experience will be far more enjoyable

4. Indoor skydiving is not recommended for pregnant women and those with joint dislocations and similar injuries

5. Each flight lasts roughly 1 minute. So make the most of it.

6. Anyone can go indoor skydiving. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

7. There may be certain weight restrictions in place. Please check with the skydiving facility before you enroll.

Don’t forget to try some spins and rolls while flying!

Indoor Skydiving Tips

1. Get the photos/videos package at the facility. This experience is something you would definitely want to remember.

2. There are no such dietary restrictions before an indoor skydive. You can have a regular meal before your scheduled skydive.

3. Schedule your skydive at least two weeks in advance to avoid missing the opportunity

4. The first skydive will probably be overwhelming and you won’t be able to register each moment. In the second indoor skydive, try some rolls, turns and spins!

5. Try and get to your skydiving facility an hour in advance to complete all paperwork and standard health checkup before your scheduled skydive

6. Remove all jewelry and accessories before your skydive to prevent losing them

Source https://www.sciencebuddies.org/teacher-resources/lesson-plans/parachutes-forces#:~:text=The%20air%20pushes%20the%20parachute%E2%80%94and%20the%20skydiver%20hanging,It%20has%20a%20direction%20opposite%20to%20the%20movement.

Source https://www.sciencebuddies.org/teacher-resources/lesson-plans/parachutes-forces

Source https://www.go-skydiving.com/indoor-skydiving/

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