Understanding aerodynamics

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This is one of a set of resources produced in conjunction with the engineering company Arconic. The resources are designed to support teaching of key engineering concepts at both key stage 3 and key stage 4, including the new GCSE in Engineering. This resource focusses on understanding aerodynamics and making a simple aerofoil.

Understanding aerodynamics is key to understanding flight. Aerofoils are designed to allow aircraft to fly. The design of these is crucial to minimise drag and increase lift.

In this activity, learners will make and test a simple design for an aerofoil. They will learn about the terms lift, drag and thrust and how these apply to aircraft. It will build knowledge of aerodynamics theory and how this can be applied.

This could be used as a one-off main lesson activity, as an introductory lesson to a wider unit of work focussing on aerodynamics or as part of a scheme on aircraft design using all of the resources developed in association with Arconic. It could also be used to support the existing IET Faraday resources ‘Speedy boats’ and ‘Wind tunnel testing’.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

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