Science / Design & Technology KS2: What impact does air resistance and density have on travelling fast?

The young investigators are set the challenge of finding out what slows a vehicle like the Bloodhound Supersonic car down.

They try indoor sky diving to find out about air resistance, and discover that a small change in body shape has a huge effect on movement and stability.

They take a trip in a microlight, to understand about lift and drag.

By using a race between someone in water and someone in air, they understand about air density at ground speed.

This clip is from the series The Bloodhound Adventure.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be used as an introduction to the effects of air resistance on a moving object.

Firstly, ask the pupils to predict if they think air is a force and cite examples eg windsurfing, using an umbrella on a windy day, skydiving.

Take the pupils outside on a still day, then ask them to run with a large sheet of card. Do they feel a force? What is that force? What happens to the force of the air if you move faster? (the clip reinforces the connection between large surface area and increased air resistance.)

After watching the clip, the children could design a balloon-powered vehicle, using the information from the discussion and research to inform their design.

Whose is the fastest? What makes the winning design successful? Relate to the 'Bloodhound' design on the clip. How is the winning design similar and different?

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Science or Design and Technology at Key Stage 2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Level 2 in Scotland.

More from The Bloodhound Adventure

Experimenting with balloon-powered cars
Experimenting with reaction times
What's Bloodhound like to drive?
Experimenting propulsion with water rockets
Harnessing air resistance with parachutes
How air resistance slows down vehicles
Investigating air and water resistance
Investigating friction
Is the Bloodhound SSC a car, a boat or a plane?
Why doesn't Bloodhound have tyres?
What makes a supersonic car move?