Unit Overview

Students test the effects of different variables on parachute performance and design a parachute.

  • Grades 1–5 (Designed for grades 3–5; includes modifications for grades 1–2.)
  • Setting: In school
  • Science connection: Forces and motion, solar system
  • 5 lessons (8–9 class sessions)

Standards alignment

We’ve developed each EiE unit with careful attention to educational standards in both science and technology/engineering. View Standards Alignments.

Unit Map

Students are introduced to the concepts of engineering and technology. (30–40 min.)
The class reads a storybook in which a boy named Paulo living in Brazil explores the field of Aerospace Engineering in order to design a parachute to safely retrieve fruit from a high tree. (90–120 min., 2–3 sessions)
Students consider the different conditions in different parts of the Solar System and imagine how spacecraft might address these conditions. (50–55 min.)
Students investigate how changes in a parachute’s material and size affect how quickly it falls. (90–115 min., 2 sessions)
Students follow the steps of the Engineering Design Process to imagine, plan, create, test, and then improve their own parachute designs. (140–170 min., 2 sessions)

Sample How-to Video

Sample Classroom Video

What's Included?

  • Teacher Guide (PDF)
  • Illustrated Story (PDF)
  • Print Materials (PDF)
  • Additional Resources