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

Which material and why?

Selecting materials based on their properties

In this activity, learners will use their knowledge of properties to select an appropriate main material for the fan blades of a turbojet engine. They will learn about properties such as toughness, thermal resistance, and creep resistance. It will build understanding of how to apply this knowledge when selecting a material for a real engineering application.

This could be used as a one-off main lesson activity, as part of a wider unit of work focusing on material properties and selection, or as part of a scheme on aircraft design using all of the resources developed in association with Arconic.

This is one of a set of resources produced in conjunction with the engineering company Arconic. The resources are designed to support teaching of key engineering concepts at both key stage 3 and key stage 4, including the new GCSE in Engineering.

Activity: Selecting materials based on their properties

In this activity, students will learn about how to select appropriate materials for an aerospace application.

They will firstly be introduced to how turbojet engine’s function, including the specific role of fan blades.

Learners will then be asked to consider the necessary material properties of fan blades (e.g., thermal resistance, toughness, strength to weight ratio, etc). With these properties in mind, students will be given a list of materials for them to conduct research into so that they can choose the most appropriate one for fan blade manufacturing.

Students will then prepare a presentation that explains the thinking behind their selected material, why it’s suitable, and why they rejected other options (for example, other materials might be too costly, have too high an environmental impact, or aren’t as easy to manufacture).

Download our activity overview for a lesson plan on selecting materials based on their properties.

The engineering context

Understanding the properties of materials allows engineers to manufacture structures, machines, and products that are fit for purpose in that they are functional, safe, cost-efficient, and sustainable.

Suggested learning outcomes

In this activity students will learn about the main categories and properties of engineering materials. They will understand how the properties of materials affect how they are used and be able to select appropriate materials for an aerospace engineering application.

Download our activity sheet and other teaching resources

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

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your class’s and your schools’ needs.

You can download our classroom lesson plan below.

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