Engineering design challenge: Package parachute

Engineers and geoscientists play an important part in protecting the public, including designing items to be used in natural disasters. There can be times when first responders cannot reach people by land to deliver food, water, or medicine, and instead they need to drop it from the air. Engineers design the package delivery systems to make sure that things arrive safely and aren’t damaged in the process. They have to think about forces like gravity, wind, air resistance, and drag.


Create a parachute that will safely deliver a package from a height of 2 metres. Your package should have an open top and land upright without having the contents spill out.


Instruct participants to use objects they can find around the house to create their parachute (some examples are below).

We recommend that the distance between the parachute and the cup or box is no longer than 20 cm. The contents of the package should be light, like a ping pong ball or marshmallow.

Example materials

Instruct participants to use these or any other materials they find around their house to work with:

  • Paper cup
  • Cardboard
  • Straws
  • Elastics
  • String
  • Plastic bags
  • Scrap Fabric
  • Tape