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Investigating airflow over shapes

Activity idea

In this activity, students investigate the aerodynamics of various shapes. They observe airflow over the shapes to find out which shape is likely to produce the least aerodynamic drag.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • describe how airflow separation affects drag
  • test different shaped objects using a hairdryer and pieces of thread to find where airflow remains attached and where it becomes separated
  • identify shapes that create the least separation and relate this to which shapes will have the least drag.

Download the Word file (see link above) for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • discussion questions
  • extension ideas
  • student worksheets.


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