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I'm a children's librarian at a public library & we are part of a county system. Over the summer each library offers a different activity for families to come and do to promote literacy, education, and fun! After they complete the activity they get a booklet stamped that lists all of the participating libraries, info, activities, and interesting facts about the libraries. Families who visit at least 5 libraries & turn in their booklets with stamps get to attend a special Party @ a Park with food, games, activities, and prizes at the end of summer. Families who visit the most libraries are eligible for a grand prize drawing.

I want to take advantage of our high ceilings and incorporate a STE(A)M activity, so I thought what if kids came to the library, made their own parachutes out of the given materials and can test them out in the library? I searched high & low through the internet but could not find a pulley system that also enabled you to "drop" or launch something. I did find this incredible video on making your own easy pulley system using 3 carabiners and rope: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Simp...

Step 1: Supplies

Here are the supplies you'll need:

  • 3D Printed Parachute Bucket (file can be found here on Tinkercad: https://tinkercad.com/things/el69MKmejur )
  • String or thin rope (length depends on how high you want to raise your whole thing)
  • 2 Carabiners (you can find these from keychain giveaways or at your local Dollar Store or hardware store)
  • Spot to hang your pulley system (our library had this hanging metal pole to hold a sign we no longer use. I'll be installing the pulley higher up on our ceiling once we get a ladder big enough to reach safely). You may want to use eye hooks

Optional: Parachuter. You can make a simple one out of 4 rubberbands or 4 small pieces of string, tape, and a square cut from a plastic bag. Tape the each of the rubberbands/strings to each of the 4 corners of the plastic bag square, then attach the other end of the rubberbands/strings to an object. Experiment & try to come up with your own!

Step 2: Get the File, Download & Print!

After a few days of messing around, I designed a prototype out of a plastic cup & pipe-cleaner. It wasn't sturdy enough to withstand the "tough love" it will receive over the summer months. Luckily our library has a 3D Printer available for the public to use. I spent several hours on Tinkercad.com designing my own bucket that has a pivoting handle with a hole in the handle for lifting the bucket, and a hole along the side of the bucket for the "launching" or "dropping" ability.

Click here to download or tinker the file: https://tinkercad.com/things/el69MKmejur

Definitely needs supports. Took about 2.5-3 hours to print the entire thing with a raft & supports on a MakerBot Replicator 2 with 10% Infill, 0.20mm Layer Height, Standard print quality, Extruder Temp of 215C, using MakerBot PLA.

Parachute Bucket Dimensions (including the handle & attached tube for dropping): 80mm X 58.67mm X 90mm

Step 3: Setting Up Pulley System

Again, BIG thanks to SpecificLove.com here on Instructables & Youtube for this tutorial on making a simple pulley system. https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Simp...

Basically tie one end of your string/rope to a carabiner and clip it to a hook or nail. Thread your string/rope through the center hole in my 3D Printer Parachute Drop Bucket in the handle, and thread the rest of the string/rope through the other carabiner and clip it to a hook or nail as well. Leave enough string/rope hanging that you or your kids can reach and pull to raise & lower the bucket.

Step 4: Attach String for "dropping" Mechanism

Attach a string for your "dropping" mechanism by threading a string through the side tube of the bucket. Tie enough knots in the bottom so the string will not get pulled through. Let the string hang out & over the top and leave enough slack that will reach you or your puller on the ground when your bucket is raised high in the air

Step 5: Make/load Your Parachuter

I made my simple parachuter out of a plastic shopping bag, tape, rubberbands, and a wooden figure that is part of our library's train table set. You can easily use a LEGO figurine, Troll doll (do kids still play with these?), small action figure, pretty much anything. Parachute material is completely up to you! Try fabric, tissue paper, ziplock bags, GO CRAZY! After setting this up and testing it out after a story time, all of the kids wanted to drop random things we had in the library, so we started dropping dice, other 3D prints, my keys, paper wads, ANYTHING they could find and was safe enough to drop.

I strongly advise that you & your kids stand to the side and NOT directly underneath your mechanism. Don't want any bonks, bruises, or black eyes!

Make sure you load your cargo into the side that is part of the dropping/launching mechanism. Otherwise, when the bucket tips, your parachuter will get tangled in the handle of the bucket.

Step 6: Have Fun, Experiment, and Measure!

Now you are good to go! Try your new Parachute Drop. Our library will have stopwatches for kids to time how long their parachuter will take to make it from our high ceilings to our floor. Different materials will yield different results. This gives kids the opportunity to try and discover things on their own, and have a hands-on experience with gravity!

<p>Nice design! I love how simple it is! </p>

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