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Investigating the effect of mass on a parachute

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Investigating the effect of mass on a parachute

Outline Plan

In this experiment, I will explore the factors, which affect the mass on a parachute.  I will use different masses to see whether a heavy mass will make the parachute fall down to the floor quicker than a smaller mass.


I believe that the heavier the parachutist is, the quicker the parachute will fall down to the floor and will reach terminal velocity.  Therefore, the air resistance will be larger than the lighter one.  I think this because when the mass is larger the parachute accelerates to a higher speed due to the terminal velocity being higher. Theory Velocity = Distance Time Acceleration = Increase in Velocity Time


I think that my prediction is correct because the heavier parachutist will have a large surface area to the lighter parachutist.  This will mean that both will have difference speeds of movement as air resistance affects them.

The force of gravity on both parachutists will vary.  The heavier parachutist will require a greater force to accelerate downwards.  However, the force of gravity varies with mass so that all falling objects are accelerating at the same rate.  The mass of the parachutist will depend on how quick it will go down.

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After constructing a pilot test, I have come to the following conclusions to amend my detailed plan (method): I am no longer going to use a mass of up to 25g of plastercene in the experiment.  Instead, I will use six masses, which will go up in 2g so they will be 2g, 4g, 6g, 8g, 10g, and 12g.  I have altered the mass of plastercene because I found it difficult to record a result with the stopwatch as the cone went down too quick when 15g of plastercene was put into the cone.  Therefore, if I use up to 25g of plastercene it will be impossible to record an accurate result.  In addition, I am now going to use a clamp stand to keep the 2m ruler straight and still, which will mean that the height that the cone will is dropped from will be exactly 2m.  I am going to measure the plastercene every time I repeat the experiment because the mass might alter when fallen down.

I am going to amend the results table by putting an extra column with the heading ‘averages’.  I will be adding this extra heading because it will give a more accurate view, overall of the results I have obtained.  I will lastly change the masses of the table which will be ‘0g, 2g, 4g, 6g, 8g, 10g, and 12g.

Time Taken to fall down (in seconds)

Mass (g)








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To develop this investigation further, I could conduct an experiment of how the surface area of a parachute affects the speed.  This will link with the investigation I have done because mass and surface area both affect the speed of a parachute.   Also, I could get a range of different masses being dropped from a higher distance (e.g. 4 meters) and I could use heavier masses of plastercene and see the effects of the cone when the height is brought up and the mass is increased.

Mufaddal Inayathusein

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