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November 27, 2018: Da Vinci Parachute

posted Nov 27, 2018, 3:50 PM by James Falletti   [ updated Nov 27, 2018, 3:51 PM ]
The 3rd Grade class made Da Vinci Parachutes in the Makerspace one week, and completed a series of experiments and that were accompanied with questions. 
  • Students had to drop two (2) Da Vinci Parachutes from equal heights and the same time. One (1) Parachute had only One (1) Paper Clip, while the other Parachute had 2 - 5 paper clips attached to it. 
  • While one student dropped the Parachutes, another student observed which parachute landed first. Each student then marked off a chart - then performed the experiment 5 times in total. 
  • Each student then answered a series of questions based on their observations and hypothesis. 

What is the Da Vinci Parachute?

Though credit for the invention of the first practical parachute usually goes to Sebastien Lenormand in 1783, Leonardo da Vinci actually conceived the parachute idea a few hundred years earlier.

Da Vinci made a sketch of the invention with this accompanying description: "If a man have a tent made of linen of which the apertures (openings) have all been stopped up, and it be twelve braccia (about 23 feet) across and twelve in depth, he will be able to throw himself down from any great height without suffering any injury."

Perhaps the most distinct aspect of da Vinci’s parachute design was that the canopy was triangular rather than rounded, leading many to question whether it would actually have enough air resistance to float. And since da Vinci’s parachute was to be made with linen covering a wood frame, the hefty weight of the device also was viewed as an issue.

Like many of da Vinci’s ideas, the invention was never actually built or tested by Leonardo himself. But, in 2000, daredevil Adrian Nichols constructed a prototype based on da Vinci’s design and tested it. Despite skepticism from experts, da Vinci’s design worked as intended and Nichols even noted that it had a smoother ride than the modern parachute.