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Formula One stays cool

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Information retrieval
Topic: Heat

Formula One is back! This activity shows that F1 cars operate at extremes – and gets students thinking about how F1 car design copes with the enormous amounts of heat energy produced during a race. Students then produce labels for a web-page explaining how conduction, convection and radiation stop F1 cars – and their drivers – from overheating.

Published: 23rd February 2005
Reviews & Comments: 11

Learning objectives

Students will reinforce their understanding of conduction, convection and radiation and apply these ideas in a novel context

Try the activity


You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

8i heating and cooling – describe uses of conductors and insulators and examples of conduction in solids and convection in liquids and gases; explain conduction and convection in terms of the particle model

Running the activity

Suggested time: 20 minutes

Possible starter:
Show students page 1 to set the scene. This page makes clear that F1 cars produce exceptional amounts of heat energy, and makes clear that the heat must be transferred from the cars to prevent disaster. Ask students how they think heat is transferred away.

Main activity:
Show students the task at the bottom of page 1. Then distribute copies of pages 2 and 3 to pairs of students. Students use the information on page 2, as well as their knowledge of conduction, convection and radiation, to label the F1 car on the 'web-page' on page 3.

Plenary:
Ask some students to read out their labels. You could ask the class to decide whether the labels convey appropriate information clearly.

How F1 stays cool:
Tyres transfer heat energy by radiation
Heated blankets transfer heat energy to spare tyres by conduction. The blankets are good insulators, so preventing subsequent heat loss from the tyres by conduction.
Brake discs transfer heat energy by conduction
F1 cars are shiny to minimise the heat absorbed by radiation
The copper pipes of the radiators transfer heat from the engine by conduction. Air passing over the pipes transfers heat from the copper pipes by convection.
Insulating material behind the driver reduces the amount of heat reaching him by conduction from the engine.
Drivers' protective clothing prevents sweat evaporating, and so reduces the amount of heat energy transferred from their bodies by conduction.
The air above the track rises because of convection.
The track absorbs heat energy that is radiated from the Sun

News links

BBC sport
This is a clever animated guide to F1 cars
Formula One
This site has everything you could possibly want to know about F1 – and more!

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

Heat transfer

Mar 12th, 2015

3 Star

Did this with a lower ability year 8 group and they really responded well to questions and had questions for me. Excellent way to consolidate knowledge

Reviewer: Jo Hinds

Formula One stays cool review

Jul 15th, 2012

5 Star

this was really good and my kids loved it very engaging

Reviewer: anju bhatia

heating and cooling year 7

May 27th, 2010

4 Star

I used this with a year 7 group and they thoroughly enjoyed the link to F1 and thinking about heat transfers that are not as obvious as the usual examples used in the curriculum.

Reviewer: Nicky Ward

Formula 1 stays cool

May 29th, 2009

5 Star

This resource really engaged my EBD students in what can be a difficult topic to get them interested in. I started by showing them clips of F1 cars racing and discussing how they can get really hot. The pdf file prompted a discussion about how to cool the cars down, students then labelled the diagram on the interactive board before completing their own paper copy - the girls in my class like art and design so I encouraged them to create their own colour designs and logos for the F1 car once they had finished labelling the heat transfers.

Reviewer: clare lovell

formula one stays cool

Nov 9th, 2007

5 Star

The pupils (EBD) remained engaged throughout the activity.The information on page 2 was clearly presented, understood by pupils and promoted discussion. The main activity helped pupils consolidate their ideas on energy transfer in an engaging way.Next time I will prepare and fill in page 3 as an example of what I want from the written work.
Another winner!

Reviewer: Nick Jones

Formula One Stays Cool

Oct 17th, 2007

4 Star

Tried this with my low ability year 10 groups. Was surprised to find out how little the had understood from the previous lessons. They found the connection to the Heat transfer topic to big a jump. I think if we had used the lap tops instead of a paper template for a web page I could have got a better response. This has more to do with my delivery of the lesson rather than the material contained in this down loads.

Reviewer: Patrick Tarpey

Formula One stays cool review

Nov 24th, 2006

5 Star

Used this with my mixed ability yr 8s excellant to get interest in what they percieved as a dull topic

Reviewer: Alison Maslen

F1 stays cool

Oct 1st, 2006

4 Star

My Year 10 middle ability loved this. After a quick fire review of what they had learnt they were able to tackle the task quite well. The examples of heat transfer were engaging for all. The idea of creating a webpage also grabbed their interest and allowed creative juices to flow. For lower groups I will put boxes on the writing frame next time headed conduction, convection etc to focus their attention. Overall a worthwhile activity that demonstrated any misconceptions.

Reviewer: Tony Stevens

Formula One stays cool review

Jul 8th, 2006

4 Star

used this activity with my year 8 class, the boys seemed to respond better to it than the girls. but overall i found it a thorughly enjoyable activity. with the third page i increased the size to a3 and got the class working in pairs, maybe next time i'll have the pairings as boy girl instead of the class working with their usual friends

Reviewer: Anna-Marie Jordan

Formula One

May 9th, 2005

4 Star

Used this with my year 8 class and they responded very well. Gave a really good everyday context to conduction, convection and radiation. I used the interactive whiteboard to display the info sheet and gave them each a copy of the car. Would have been useful to have a clip of a Formula One race to really set the scene and enable them to visualise it - the girls found it particularly difficult. Plan to use it for a quick recap activity for year 10 as well as I think they will enjoy it.

Reviewer: Natalie Robb

Formula One stays cool review

Mar 8th, 2005

3 Star

used this as a starter with my lower y10 classes. the boys loved it, girls weren't too sure. it helps to give the pupils more examples of used of conduction, convection and radiation than just the usual classroom ones.
used a data projector instead of copying sheets - pupils like the opportunity to showoff their art skills!

Reviewer: Marion Frankland