This article explores the aerodynamics of cycling and the steps cyclists can take to minimise pressure drag and friction drag. It tells the story of a cyclist named Zephyr and the advice she receives from engineering and biomechanics expert Dr Lindsay Underwood to improve her performance.
About 90% of a competitive cyclist’s effort goes into fighting aerodynamic drag. Lindsay used wind tunnel research to study how air flows around cyclists. She uses this evidence to help cyclists position themselves on their bikes to reduce pressure drag and make decisions about clothing to reduce skin friction drag.
Check your school library for the article from the 2014 Level 4 Connected journal, ‘What’s the evidence, download it as a google slide presentation or order it from the Ministry of Education.
Teacher support material and reusable content
The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from TKI (Word and PDF files available, click on 'Look inside this issue'). The material outlines key nature of science and key science ideas profiled in the article. It also explores how the article supports students to develop the science capability ‘using evidence’. It includes three learning activities to extend student understanding of cycling aerodynamics, drag resistance and cycle mechanics.
The reusable content has text and images from the article, audio narration and additional digital content that could be used to support the science capability ‘interpret representations’.
Our collection of resources on cycling aerodynamics is a great opportunity to look at forces and speed in relation to cycling and think about how these might be measured and how one affects the other. These resources were developed with year 9 and 10 students in mind. However, some of the ideas and activities may be of interest to other levels.
The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the back of the chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.