STEM: Doodle-Parachute-Jumpers (Design Investigation)

Time Required: Two 45-60 minute sessions
Skill Level: Beginner
Recommended Grades: K to 2nd

In this lesson, students will work in pairs using the 3Doodler to design and create different parachute jumpers, as well as an aerodynamic parachute crafted with everyday objects, e.g., coffee filters and string. Students will make predictions, collaborate, problem-solve, test and retest in this hands-on design project.

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Lesson Plan



Introduce the concept of skydiving with a parachute by exploring this page about Skydiving. Discuss the shape of the parachute and how it interacts with air and the wind.

Step 2

Whole group: Ask students to brainstorm a list of things that fly in the air.

*Possible responses: planes, birds, bees, butterflies, etc.

Step 3

Ask: What do these things all have in common?

*Possible responses: wings, symmetrical, shape, etc.

Step 4

Ask students what they know about skydiving and parachute jumpers. Discuss how they jump out of an airplane. Ask students how they think speed would affect their fall. Would it be better to fall quickly or slowly? Why? Test this out by dropping a rock versus a feather. Ask: Which one lands more lightly? How is this like a parachute jumper? Would he or she like to land like a rock or a feather? Why?

Step 5

Write the word "aerodynamic" on the board. Explain that anything that flies, such as an airplane, a helicopters, a bird, or a bug, must be aerodynamic in order to fly through the air. Parachute jumpers must be aerodynamic too, or they will drop too quickly and land too hard when they hit the ground.

Step 6

Ask students to discuss how the shape of the parachute affects the fall. What would be the best shape?

Step 7

Share the goal: During this session, students will design an aerodynamic parachute. Students will also design six different jumpers to determine the most aerodynamic pose for jumping. The teacher will time each jumper's fall in seconds. The objective is to design a jumper and parachute with the longest fall.

Step 8

Project your computer screen or a tablet on the board for all students to view the Doodle-Parachute-Jumpers Stencil Worksheet. Demonstrate how to draw six different stencil-poses. Ask students which pose they think would be the most aerodynamic? Why?

Step 9

Model how to doodle the outline of each stick figure jumper. Make sure all body parts are joined.

Step 10

Present the materials for crafting the parachute jumpers to the students.

Students may use all or some of the materials. Students may use string or doodle their own string.

*See Appendix

Step 11

Hand out 3Doodlers and Doodle-Parachute-Jumpers Stencil Worksheet for students to begin drawing their stencils. Approve their stencils before allowing students to doodle them.

Step 12

After the jumpers are doodled, have students begin designing a parachute using selected materials. They do not need to use all of the materials displayed.

Step 13

Allow time for students to test their various jumpers. Hand out timers and show students how to use them to time their fall off a desk.

Wrap Up

Have pairs share their most aerodynamic jumpers and parachutes with the class. Time their descent. Discuss the characteristics that made some jumpers and parachute rides longer. Allow students time to try the same activity again, giving them time to make adjustments to the parachutes or jumpers. Share the jumpers and parachutes on Twitter. #3DoodlerEDU @3Doodler


The teacher will assess the students by evaluating their jumpers, parachutes and their participation during discussions.

Possible Extensions

Students will bring their jumpers outside and time their fall during different wind conditions. Students will analyze, determine and record the best weather conditions for parachute jumping.


  • creativity - the quality of having or showing an ability to make new things or think of new ideas.

  • estimation - a rough calculation of the value, number, quantity, or extent of something.

  • force - strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement.

  • gravity - the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass. For most purposes Newton's laws of gravity apply, with minor modifications to take the general theory of relativity into account.

  • motion - the action or process of moving or being moved.

  • prediction - a thing predicted; a forecast.

  • problem-solving - the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.

  • shapes - the quality of a distinct object or body in having an external surface or outline of specific form or figure.

  • STEM - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, considered as a group of academic or career fields.

  • weight - a body's relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it, giving rise to a downward force; the heaviness of a person or thing.

Educational Standards

Common Core

Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

In This Lesson

Students will discuss what makes parachute jumpers aerodynamic in terms of weight, pose, shape, and environmental conditions.

Common Core

Build on others' talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.

In This Lesson

Students will build on the talk of others during whole group and partner work throughout this project.

Next Gen Science
K-2-ETS1-2 Engineering Design

Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem

In This Lesson

Students will design and doodle stencils for six different poses for their stick figure jumper. Each pose will represent a possible aerodynamic position for jumping.

Next Gen Science
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Because there is always more than one possible solution to a problem, it is useful to compare and test designs.

In This Lesson

Students will test and then make adjustments to their jumpers and parachutes before retesting their designs. Students will compare their designs to those of other pairs in the classroom.

CS Teachers

Decompose (break down) a larger problem into smaller sub-problems with teacher guidance or independently.

In This Lesson

Students will break down this design task into the process of drawing six different stencil poses for their stick figure jumper, designing a parachute, testing it, redesigning and retesting it.


Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

In This Lesson

Students will use a 3Doodler to create an aerodynamic parachute jumper.


Create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

In This Lesson

Students will create an original parachute jumper from a stencil that's doodled with the 3Doodler. They will test it, make adjustments to it, and retest it.


Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

In This Lesson

Students will work a partner and peers throughout the design, discussion, testing and retesting parts of this exercise.

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