Friday 1 January 2021
  • STEM
  • Age 11-14 (KS3)

IWM Duxford is Europe’s largest air museum, inside every hangar and exhibition - and outside them too - there are hundreds of aircraft, vehicles and more.  

In this resource IWM have partnered with STEM-based charity and social enterprise- the Skylab to introduce students to some of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics behind aviation design. In particular this resource looks at the difference in aircraft performance due to advances in technology since the Second World War.

To start your journey, watch this short introductory video starring IWM expert Ngaire and Geoff from Skylab,

Take the challenge!

Take the challenge!

Teacher notes:

Download the Teacher Notes to give you all the background information you need to introduce your students to this resource with confidence!

Curriculum Links

Find out more about how this resource is mapped against some of the themes and content topics found in the curricula for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland


Geoff has set the challenge – there are two different versions, tricky and trickier! Choose which version you wish to work on and download everything you need here to get started. These worksheets will guide you through the mathematics behind the science so that you will be working out wing loading and take-off mass before you know it!



Completed the challenge? Get the answers below!

Answers: Tricky and Trickier

Once your students have completed the challenge use the data to identify and quantify the key differences in performance between the aircraft. You can discuss and investigate further by exploring these questions together in a group discussion:

What has been responsible for these differences?

Why have these differences in performance been necessary?

What specific technologies have enabled the changes in performance?

What do these performance differences enable the aircraft to do better?

Identify the types of subject areas you may see in the classroom within the technologies

Explore More

Supermarine Spitfire Mk I of No. 19 Squadron at Fowlmere in Cambridgeshire, 21 September 1940.
© IWM (CH 1447)
Second World War

9 Iconic Aircraft From The Battle Of Britain

Learn about the RAF Fighter Command’s aircraft during the Battle of Britain from the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, to the Bf 109 (named the best fighter in the world), the 'Flying Pencil' and the infamous ‘Stuka’.
Poster image for Adventures in History: Grumpy and his Spitfire

Grumpy and his Spitfire

Find out why pilot George Unwin was given the nickname 'Grumpy' and find out how he achieved his dream of flying a Spitfire.