Parachuting Pinwheel

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Build a pinwheel that works without wind! This activity contains steps on how to build a parachuting pinwheel out of paper, a film canister, and some brads. Throw it off a high place and time how long it takes to helicopter to the ground. Fill the film canister with objects, and see how it effects the parachuting pinwheel.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 8

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • paper
  • scissor
  • glue stick
  • film canister
  • brads
  • hole punch
  • paper clips
  • watch or timer
  • high place from which to toss the parachute pinwheel


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Rotation Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity
  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Science Museum of Minnesota, 1995

Funding Sources:

  • Unisys
  • Science Learning Network
  • National Science Foundation