Lesson 1: Exploring stability

Using a scientific approach, children test the stability of 3D shapes that they have moulded themselves, and explore man-made and natural structures.

Before the lesson

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Learning objective

  • To explore the concept and features of structures and the stability of different shapes

National curriculum

Pupils should be taught to:


  • Explore and evaluate a range of existing products
  • Evaluate their ideas and products against design criteria

Technical knowledge

  • Build structures, exploring how they can be made stronger, stiffer and more stable

Success criteria

Cross-curricular links

Attention grabber

Main event


Pupils needing extra support: The shapes could be premade and the experiment could simply be demonstrated, or alternatively put children in mixed ability pairs or groups. Utilise the word bank edition of the Activity: Baby Bear chair analysis and consider putting them in pairs. If necessary, approach the chair analysis as a class or group and where possible, use real examples of a gym ball and stool.

Pupils working at greater depth: Could work individually and make a wider range of shapes to test. You could then encourage them to combine shapes or come up with their own shapes to test. They could label the diagrams in more depth,  for example, where there might be visible nuts and bolts or other joints, identify materials used and why they are good choices, identify how the stability could be improved.

Wrapping up

Assessing pupils' progress and understanding


Created by:
Tom Turnham,  
Design & Technology specialist
Tom has been a teacher for seven years and, as Head of Upper School at The Belham Primary School, he has a keen interest in young people and good causes. For the past seventeen years he has volunteered with various…
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