wikiHow to Make a Parachute With a Plastic Bag and a Straw

This cute little parachute is ideal for playing with, or it can be used as a decoration (perhaps a jellyfish), or even used as a sunshade. An ideal craft or science project for the classroom or home, this parachute is easy to make and fun to use; just follow the simple instructions outlined here.

Steps

  1. Image titled Para1_229.JPG
    1
    Cut a flexible straw into 8 equal parts lengthwise, as shown in the image.
    • Only cut down to the concertina flex part of the straw and not beyond.
      Image titled Para2_742.JPG
  2. Image titled Para8_167.JPG
    2
    Fold over the the other end of the straw (the uncut portion) slightly and hold in place with pliers. Seal this end together using a flame:
    • Hold the end in place with the pliers.
      Image titled DVC00195_45.JPG
    • With care, use the naked flame to heat seal together.
      Image titled DVC00194_713.JPG
  3. Image titled Para3_590.JPG
    3
    Stick double-sided tape on each of 8 cut ends of the straw.
    • Bend over the end, with the double-sided tape intact.
      Image titled Para4_701.JPG
  4. Image titled DVC00011_765.JPG
    4
    Find a plastic bag and smooth it out to remove wrinkles.
    • Cut off the handles and the base, as shown in the image.
      Image titled DVC00012_903.JPG
    • Cut out a rough square shape as shown in the image. The square should measure about 35 centimeter (13.8 in) x 35 centimeter (13.8 in) / 13.7" x 13.7".
      Image titled DVC00013_88.JPG
    • Fold like origami. Fold in half, then a quarter, then an eighth, and then a sixteenth (1/2>1/4>1/8>1/16).
      Image titled DVC00014_87.JPG
    • Once folded, cut the folded piece a length of 15 centimeter (5.9 in) / 5.9" radius. Cut off this excess, so it'll form an isosceles triangle.
      Image titled DVC00015_438.JPG
    • Unfold the circle. You'll see that the fold lines remain clearly, indicating suitable positioning of the parachute strings to ensure even balance.
      Image titled DVC00016_953.JPG
  5. Image titled Para5_752.JPG
    5
    Attach each of the eight cut straw pieces with double-sided tape. Stick the sticky side alongside one fold line.
    • Continue working your way around the entire parachute using even positioning, as shown in the image. It's helpful to click and enlarge this image to follow it more easily.
      Image titled Para6a_30.JPG
    • The appearance at this stage.
      Image titled Para6b_911.JPG
      Image titled Para7_532.JPG
  6. 6
    Weight and stopper the open portion of the straw. Where the cut lengths of the parachute meet the concertina flex of the straw, there remains an open hole. In order to weight the parachute for smooth floating, you'll need to fill this with some small beads.
    • Carefully funnel the small beads into the hole.
      Image titled Para9_833.JPG
    • Seal the beads in by corking it with tissue pieces. Make sure it is firm so that the beads don't come tumbling out.
      Image titled Para10_705.JPG
  7. Image titled Para f_901.JPG
    7
    Decorate the parachute if wished. While this step isn't necessary, it's also fun and it personalizes the parachute. A great activity for kids during the holidays or on rainy weekends!
  8. Image titled Pla para wind_33.png
    Image titled Para11_400.JPG
    8
    Play with your newly made parachute. Throw it into the air on an angle. It should go up like an umbrella. Release and watch it drop.

Tips

  • If you make several, children can have races to see whose parachute touches the ground first. This could also make a great science experiment, to have the kids adjust the weighting to see if that makes a difference to speed, angle, and height of floating.
  • If the straw with a four line:
  • Adjust the weight by the amount of the beads you put in. You might need to experiment with this to see what works best.
  • This is a good way to recycle plastic bags which can easily pollute the environment if simply thrown away.
  • Image titled P straw1_138.JPG
    Image titled P straw2_785.JPG
    Image titled P straw3_797.JPG
    Image titled P straw4_460.JPG
    Cut open up on the line. Double-sided tape on the inside. Cut into 8 with respect to the line.

Warnings

  • Dispose of properly when it is no longer needed. Plastic pollution harms forests and the sea.
  • Do not drop your parachute onto people. Avoid throwing into a public place without permission.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic bag (loose and flexible / 35cm x 35cm / 13.7" x 13.7" per square); be careful if using a biodegradable plastic bag as it won't last long and will disintegrate in the sunlight - it will only be a temporary toy or decoration
  • Plastic straw (Flex type / 21cm / 8.26")
  • Grass beads (small size) for "weight"
  • Double-sided tape (5mm /0.19" wide)
  • Scissors
  • Pliers
  • Lighter (flame)
  • Oily marker (optional), for decorating

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Kids' Crafts