Which Parachute Falls The Slowest?

A lab report of an experiment on the falling time of several different parachutes.


           The purpose of this experiment is to see which parachute shape falls the slowest.  The parachutes were dropped from a 1-story drop.  The time was measured and recorded.  The independent variable was the shape of the parachute.  The dependant variable was the time it takes to fall.  The constant variables were:  8 shroud lines, 19 cm shroud lines, 5 cm of masking tape per line to attach shroud lines, string shroud lines, 1 story drop height, same cargo (water), parachutes made out of 1 sheet of paper, and same weight of water.  The hypothesis being tested was: If the parachute is circular then it will be the slowest.


  • 1 ruler
  • 152 cm of string
  • 5 pieces of paper
  • 1 cargo
  • 40 cm of masking tape
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 stopwatch


    1. Cut paper into a square
    2. Attach 19 cm shroud lines to square with masking tape (evenly spaced-1 line per corner, 1 line per middle of side)
    3. Attach shroud lines around the edge of cargo (evenly spaced)
    4. Drop 1 story and time how long it takes to drop
    5. Repeat steps 1-4 with circle, rectangle, folded over rectangle, and little parachutes


·         The best parachute was rectangle with a time of 2.63 seconds

·         The worst parachute was circle with a time of 1.58 seconds

·         The average fall time was 1.92 seconds


            The hypothesis being tested was: If the parachute is circular then it will be the slowest.  The hypothesis was proved incorrect.  The data shows that circle is the fastest parachute with 1.58 seconds.

            A few possible sources of error are:  Different people timed-some may start or stop the timer late or early.  Some parachutes landed on the stairs not the floor.  That could affect the drop time.

            The experiment could have gone better if it was done in a drop environment with no stairs, just flat ground.  If a coordinated mechanical arm and computer timer were used it would affect accuracy a lot.

            Overall this experiment proves that the best parachute design is rectangle.

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