Year 5 have been working very hard in Science this term and have been testing a hypothesis through some practical experiments involving our very beautiful staircase in Chapman House. They learned that gravity is the force that exists between any two objects that have mass. Weight is a measure of the force of gravity pulling on an object. So, does that mean heavier objects will fall faster?

We wanted to test air resistance to see if this caused changes in acceleration. Air resistance (drag) opposes the direction that the object is moving and slows it down. In small groups, the girls decided on one of two variables: the size of the parachute or the shape of the parachute. They then set to work on creating their parachutes using carrier bags, string, sticky tape and an object of the same mass to be supported by their parachutes. This required a lot of co-operation and discussion so that each member of the group was happy with the choice.

The girls then put their creations to the test by dropping them from the grand spiral staircase in Chapman House. The conclusion? Size matters. A larger parachute has more surface area, which creates more drag against gravity, and creates more air resistance. The largest parachutes took the longest time to drop, no matter what the weight. It was a great way to make use of the facilities at Junior School too. It’s not just a pretty staircase!

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