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Age Range: 11-14 | 14-16
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • D&T

Wheel materials

Testing materials to see which material is the most suitable for a wheel.

Ettore Bugatti was the founder and designer of Bugatti sports cars. He was the first designer to use aluminium wheels to decrease the weight of Grand Prix racing cars, designing one of the most successful racing cars in the world.

This resource has been developed with the support of the Bugatti Trust Museum and Study Centre and focuses on testing materials to see which material is the most suitable for a wheel using Engineering and Math’s skills.

Activity info, teachers’ notes and curriculum links

In this activity learners will test various discs made from different materials to see how they perform as a wheel.

This activity could be used as a main lesson activity to teach learners about the physical properties of materials or approaches to testing in the context of practical applications. It could also be used as part of an introduction to the practical use of numeracy within engineering.

Download the free activity sheets below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download and are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

And please do share your learning highlights and final creations with us on social media @IETeducation or send them via email to to be featured in our online gallery.

Tools/resources required

  • Discs of material, 140 mm diameter with a 10 mm central hole; for example, steel, aluminium, acrylic, plywood
  • Metal bar or pipe, 8-10 mm diameter
  • G clamps or vices
  • Masking tape
  • Weights – various, 250 g to 1 kg
  • Stopwatch
  • Calculators
  • Rulers and writing implements
  • Optional: scales to weigh the discs

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

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