1. How does the size of a parachute's canopy affect the rate at which it falls?
2. How does the material a parachute's canopy is made of affect the rate at which it falls?
3. How does the length of a parachute's suspension lines affect the rate at which it falls?
Fifth graders have identified the variable they are testing in each experiment and the variables they'll need to control to make them fair tests. The variable we test is the ONLY factor that is changed in an experiment. For example, in the first question, the variable being tested is the size of the parachute. The variables we control are the factors that are kept the same. Again, for the first experiment, the variables controlled are the material of the canopy, the length of the suspension lines, the weight of the load, and the drop height.
The first set of fifth graders went outside to test their parachutes, and unfortunately, it was a flop! The wind was too intense, and the air conditioning units on the 3rd floor below got in the way, affecting our landing times. Next week we'll be discussing how we can make our tests more fair, as the results we got were extremely inconsistent.