F1 Aerodynamics in Schools


Being a STEM Ambassador, I keep check with what STEM enrichment activities are planned that I feel I could support with my experience. I saw an “F1 Aerodynamics” related request and it tickled my buds somewhat! So I vested my interest via the formal portal/method to/with STEM and this was responded to.

What was the challenge? It is a global competition given as per:

The Competition - What's It All About?
You are a Formula One™ team commissioned to design, construct and race the fastest Formula One Car of the Future, powered by compressed air cylinders.

F1 aerodynamic downforceThe first of the activities was in a middle school in Whitley Bay, to simply share my experience (having been an Aerodynamicist) with the Year 8 kids taking part in the F1 challenge. I enjoyed helping them with what they were doing at that part of their challenge. 


bbc domesday


Wow. I would have loved to have had that opportunity at that age. Unbelievable! Showing my age, a bit?! (my middle school had a BBC!)



F1 aerodynamicsF1 in Schools is the only global multi-disciplinary challenge in which teams of students aged 9 to 19 have to use CAD (Computer Aided Design)/CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture) software to collaborate, design, analyse, manufacture, test, and then race miniature compressed air powered balsa wood F1 cars. Not quite D&R as I did!


What was involved? Without too much detail, the project goes something like:

Form a team; Business and Sponsorship Plan; Design, using 3D CAD software; Analyse – aerodynamics, CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics); Make using 3D CAM; Test, the aerodynamics are tested in wind and smoke tunnels; Pit Booth; Scrutineering; Engineering Judging; Verbal Presentation; Portfolio Judging; and Race!


I was amazed to see what is available these days (hardware and software) for the students/kids and their understanding of it, even now. Fair play respectively to designers and teachers for this.

F1 aerodynamicsWhat did I do? I explained as simply as I could about the 4 basic fundamental forces involved in flight and basic Bernouilli’s Principle (no patronisation intended!) around an aerofoil to produce LIFT, being 1 of the 4; DRAG, WEIGHT and THRUST the others. F1 though?




NEGATIVE LIFT = DOWN FORCE (helps cars stick to the road).

Seeing their understanding was brilliant to see (and that I haven’t fully lost it, yet!).

Aerodynamics are used in many applications!