Air Resistance

All | Physics | Science | 11-16

Learning Objectives

  • To understand air resistance is a force which slows things down.
  • To investigate how air resistance can be minimized.

Working scientifically

  • How can I investigate the best way of minimising air resistance for a runner?
  • Ask questions and develop a line of enquiry based on observations of the real world, alongside prior knowledge and experience.
  • Make predictions using scientific knowledge and understanding.
  • Use appropriate techniques, apparatus, and materials during fieldwork and laboratory work, paying attention to health and safety.
  • Present observations and data using appropriate methods, including tables and graphs.

Lesson Description

The INEOS 1:59 Challenge didn’t just write a new chapter in the history of sport, the work of the performance team also created a completely new way to run marathons, with their extraordinary innovation in formation of the pace-making team.

On 12th October 2019 Eliud Kipchoge, with support from the INEOS 1:59 Performance team, broke the last great barrier in modern athletics, the two-hour marathon. In doing so he inspired others to believe that they can overcome their own personal barriers. He believes that #NoHumanIsLimited.

This series of 3 exciting STEM challenges for students covers key aspects of the challenge Eliud and his team faced; pacemakers, nutrition and course selection. Students will put themselves into the roles of the 1:59 team and will investigate what it takes to run a sub-two-hour marathon by carrying out hands-on practical work in physics, biology and maths.

All lessons are fully linked to the National Curriculum.

Video: Explaining the INEOS 1:59 Challenge Pacemaker Formation.



For immediate access to all of our free Key stage 3 and 4 STEM teaching resources.

1. 1:59 STEM Challenge workbook Use this workbook to organise your students work to form a coherent finished project. The workbook can be used for each individual module in isolation or for all 3 modules as a finished STEM cross-curricular project.
2.Pacemaker presentation Editable presentation using the context of the INEOS 1:59 challenge to cover forces and air resistance.
3.Runner templates Use these runner templates along with the runner grid in order to complete the air resistance investigation.
4.Runner grid Use this runner grid along with the runner templates in order to complete the air resistance investigation.


Nutrition and digestion

  • content of a healthy human diet: carbohydrates, lipids (fats and oils), proteins, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and water, and why each is needed
  • calculations of energy requirements in a healthy daily diet
  • the consequences of imbalances in the diet, including obesity, starvation and deficiency diseases

Energy Calculation of fuel uses and costs in the domestic context

  • comparing energy values of different foods (from labels) (kJ)
  • comparing amounts of energy transferred (J, kJ, kW hour)


  • forces as pushes or pulls, arising from the interaction between two objects
  • using force arrows in diagrams, adding forces in one dimension, balanced and unbalanced forces
  • forces: associated with deforming objects; stretching and squashing – springs; with rubbing and friction between surfaces, with pushing things out of the way; resistance to motion of air and water

Working scientifically

Through the content across all three disciplines, pupils should be taught to:

Scientific attitudes

  • pay attention to objectivity and concern for accuracy, precision, repeatability and reproducibility
  • understand that scientific methods and theories develop as earlier explanations are modified to take account of new evidence and ideas, together with the importance of publishing results and peer review
  • evaluate risks.

Experimental skills and investigations

  • ask questions and develop a line of enquiry based on observations of the real world, alongside prior knowledge and experience
  • make predictions using scientific knowledge and understanding
  • select, plan and carry out the most appropriate types of scientific enquiries to test predictions, including identifying independent, dependent and control variables, where appropriate
  • use appropriate techniques, apparatus, and materials during fieldwork and laboratory work, paying attention to health and safety
  • make and record observations and measurements using a range of methods for different investigations; and evaluate the reliability of methods and suggest possible improvements
  • apply sampling techniques. Analysis and evaluation
  • apply mathematical concepts and calculate results
  • present observations and data using appropriate methods, including tables and graphs
  • interpret observations and data, including identifying patterns and using observations, measurements and data to draw conclusions
  • present reasoned explanations, including explaining data in relation to predictions and hypotheses
  • evaluate data, showing awareness of potential sources of random and systematic error
  • identify further questions arising from their results.


  • use and derive simple equations and carry out appropriate calculations.
  • undertake basic data analysis including simple statistical techniques.




  • By investigating how friction, including air resistance, affects motion, I can suggest ways to improve efficiency in moving objects.
  • By contributing to investigations of energy loss due to friction, I can suggest ways of improving the efficiency of moving systems.
  • I can use appropriate methods to measure, calculate and display graphically the speed of an object, and show how these methods can be used in a selected application.

Body systems and cells

  • By investigating some body systems and potential problems which they may develop, I can make informed decisions to help me to maintain my health and wellbeing.
  • I have explored the structure and function of organs and organ systems and can relate this to the basic biological processes required to sustain life.

Angle, symmetry and transformation

  • Having investigated navigation in the world, I can apply my understanding of bearings and scale to interpret maps and plans and create accurate plans, and scale drawings of routes and journeys.
  • I can apply my understanding of scale when enlarging or reducing pictures and shapes, using different methods, including technology
  • I can name angles and find their sizes using my knowledge of the properties of a range of 2D shapes and the angle properties associated with intersecting and parallel lines.


  • how food is used by the body as fuel during respiration and why the components of a balanced diet are needed for good health
  • the conservation of energy and ways in which energy can be stored
  • the forces in devices and their relationship to work done and power



All, Physics, Science

Key Stage


Resource For

Students, Teachers


Film, Practical Investigation, Student workbook, Teacher Presentation, Teachers' notes, Worksheets


1:59 Challenge
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