Workshop Idea: STEM at the Heritage Motor Centre

Date Posted: 08/08/2014

Subject: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)
Venue: Heritage Motor Museum, Warwickshire
Key Stages: 1-4

The Heritage Motor Centre based in Gaydon, Warwickshire provides school groups with a range of hands-on educational activities from KS1 to KS4.

Sessions are conducted against the backdrop of one of the world’s largest historic collections of British cars, representing the earliest days of motoring through to the classic 1960s designs such as the Mini and Jaguar E-Type and up to the present day with modern cars and prototypes.

As well as the History of Transport and Journeys Through Time sessions introducing KS1 children to British motoring history, the museum has recently launched a range of new Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) programmes.

Students from KS2 to KS4 are given an understanding of how forces and motion are harnessed by simple mechanisms to create the useful motion we rely on for car travel.

Older students also have the opportunity to get up close to the collection and learn how and why decisions are made in the design process based upon the fashions of the time.

Some of the programmes include:

KS1: Journeys Through Time

Children can take a journey through the development of cars and the people who built and drove them.

They can experience what it was like to own one of the first cars and to drive on Victorian roads, through exciting costumed role-play and a tour along the museum’s ‘Time Road’.

KS2: Discovering Forces

Students can explore energy and motion in this ‘hands on’ science investigation aimed at helping them understand some of the forces at work in cars, such as push and pull and gravity and friction.

Using Lego Technic kits to make model cars, students conduct a scientific investigation into potential energy, recording data for analysis and discussion.

KS3: Investigating Gears

In this session students will explore the effect of gears on vehicles in a practical investigation.

Working in groups, students will construct a number of small models and conduct a scientific investigation into the effects of different gear ratios on the speed of a vehicle.

Students will develop an understanding of how gears affect performance and how they are used in vehicles to regulate speed and maintain control.

This activity will provide data for follow-up data handling activities back at school.

KS3+: Fashion Vs Function - Cars as a Product

This activity will take students on a guided tour of the museum showing them examples of distinctive British cars from the past.

Students will work in groups to produce a poster detailing the adaptations that make their car suitable for its intended market.

Cars analysed will include sports cars, 4x4s and luxury cars to give students a feel for the different requirements of different markets and the concepts and decisions that influence car design.

Posters can then be used in a display at school or as part of a Design and Technology project.

More detailed information about all of these sessions can be found on the website at

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