Science Olympiad Ping Pong Parachute Practice Log Guide

what is ping pong parachute

Ping pong parachute is an engineering-based event hosted by Science Olympiad where students are tasked to build and test a bottle rocket indoors that deploys a parachute that holds a ping pong ball. The objective to achieve the highest time aloft for the ping pong ball. These concepts also apply to Indoor Bottle Rocket, another event held by Science Olympiad. 

In this post, we will discuss what you should record and measure for your Science Olympiad Ping Pong Parachute practice log.

ping pong parachute practice log

Why are practice logs important

Creating a Ping Pong Parachute practice log is important for two different reasons:

  1. It helps you fix and adjust your device to test in a different venue or make improvements
  2. It is required by the rules and prevents a hefty penalty on your score.

Below you will find the most important and useful factors that should be included on your flight log to improve your productivity and results for your device.

factor 1 - launch PSI

Launch Psi is both a extremely important factor and required by the event rules. By recording and adjusting the launch psi of your ping pong parachute, you should be able to determine how mush psi is needed to launch your rocket to a specific height.

factor 2 - Time Aloft

Like launch psi, time aloft is a required factor by the event rules. However, time aloft is different than other factors because it is not and independent variable, but is rather effected by other aspects. This allows you to compare your results that arise from various changes you have made and recorded. Ultimately, time should be your go-to factor to compare any adjustments you make.

factor 3 - Max Height

Maximum height is the final required factor by the event rules and is important to see the correlation between the rocket’s height and psi. Perfecting this specific variable to that point where you can accurately predict the maximum height of your rocket will allow you to prevent any crashes in the ceiling of your testing site.

factor 4 - Parachute diameter

As we have discussed in previous posts and videos, parachutes create air resistance and drag which result in a slow time of decent for falling objects. However, if the drag force exceeded the downwards force necessary for a smooth decent, then parachute will not properly function. Therefore, to control the air resistance created by the parachute, it is important to record the parachute’s diameter.

factor 5 - Rocket Weight

As we have discussed in factor 3, controlling the maximum height of your rocket is important to prevent and ceiling crashes. Because rocket weight affects the gravitational pull on that rocket, it is important to adjust and record that factor to properly tweak the maximum height of your rocket.

factor 6 - parachute system weight

Parachute system weight refers to the weight of the parachute, ping pong ball, string, and other material that is used to created the device that is deployed from the rocket. recording and adjusting this weight affect the decent of the ping pong ball.

factor 7 - parachute string length

The length of string that connects the ping pong ball to the parachute will affect the amount of air resistance that the parachute creates, so it is important to record that factor

factor 8 - Notes

On e of the more helpful factors that you could include is a notes section where you outline any changes that you have made other than what has been previously discussed. For example, you may have attempted to try a new way of playing the parachute system on the rocket. Recording data like this will allow you to look back at your previous trials an see what worked and what didn’t.

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