Age 9-11 (KS2)Age 11-14 (KS3)
The Spitfire is one of the most iconic aircraft in the world even though it first flew over 80 years ago. Behind that sleek design, speed and extensive history is a very effective machine - one that utilises the laws of physics and mathematics that means it still flies as well today as it did in the 1940’s.
Join IWM experts Ngaire Bushell and John Delaney as they give you a special tour of IWM Duxford’s very own Spitfire. We’ll then ask you to complete an important challenge that proves maths and science are as important in keeping this aircraft flying as the pilot in the cockpit.
Download the teacher notes for Team Spitfire for tips and advice. This resource looks at scientific considerations used to keep the Spitfire in the air and how a lot of these decisions are made on the ground: in particular, speed, power and fuel. The downloadable resource encourages students to engage with a virtual stunt display in order to thrill the audiences watching, but to also make sure the aircraft lands safely.
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.
Watch the video presented by IWM expert John Delaney and starring Spitfire N3200. You may choose to watch the film a second time and encourage students to take notes.
Tell your students that they have been asked to explain their calculations to a display pilot and they will need to prepare a presentation which will describe their display and calculations to prove to the test pilots that they should have full confidence that the display will have enough fuel to make it a success and to get them safely back down onto the tarmac of the runaway!
Ask your students to draw a Spitfire display flight path whilst bearing in mind the amount of fuel their display manoeuvres use – there is a table of manoeuvres and fuel use at the end of the worksheet for students to refer to. They must keep some fuel for landing, taxi and reserve.