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Design a Kite-Powered car


Core National Curriculum links

Science, DT, Maths

Other National Curriculum links

Instructional Writing

Main engineering principles

  • Pupils demonstrate mastery from other curriculum areas


About a lesson or a series of lessons


Adapting, Visualising, Improving

EDP stages

Create, Improve

Resources required

Junk materials: Wooden dowels / scrap sticks, tape, string, a range of materials for the 'sail' (refuse bags, different paper types, fabric etc).

Summary of activity

Pupils build a working model of a kite by adapting an existing design.

To open the activity

Following learning about air resistance in science, explore the uses of kites to make objects move or slow down, (eg kite surfers / hang-gliders), introduce the challenge of building a kite, which could, following further tinkering, be used to create a wind-powered vehicle.

The main activity

Using available materials, pupils to choose two sail materials to compare and contrast scientifically. They will then need to explore kite-building techniques independently, either as a whole-class, or in small-groups through watching video clips. For maths mastery, the materials will need to be carefully measured and for D&T, some techniques for attaching materials are more effective in order to make their kite lightweight and better able to fly.
Kites can then be tested, ideally on a windy day, but otherwise through running a set distance into any kind of breeze. Observational skills can be developed, and cameras used to record findings.

Challenge and support

Challenge level within maths can be developed through expectation of mastery skills in geometry and measurement.
Different choices of video clip can be used to support the more / less able, allowing for greater creativity.
Less able pupils may need to have support in measuring and cutting - perhaps by using a pre-prepared cardboard template to cut around their sail.

To finish the activity

Encourage evaluation and re-building of kites according to observations made. Extend further by exploring shapes, sizes and materials used. A longer term goal could be to attach to a toy car / wheeled item, and use a fan to make them move unaided.

Learn from me (what worked well for us)

Using an ipad and Youtube clips takes away the pressure of making your own working model beforehand. Displaying a QR code of the link also saves lots of time.

Links for pupils (easy) (medium) (harder)

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