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Flying in the face of laws

Developments in skydiving have led to participants being able to fly in ways which may appear to defy the laws of physics, writes Anu Ojha.

The sky becomes like a three-dimensional playground, and yet it is done through the application of Newton's laws to the dynamics of airflow past the human body.

The sport is a great example for teaching forces at key stages 3, 4 and 5, as well as more challenging ideas related to momentum conservation.

Using the Airkix wind tunnel in Milton Keynes, pupils get to see exactly what is possible rather than by watching video footage.

The classroom sessions build up their understanding of the physics behind skydiving; the opportunity for them to then put these principles into practice themselves not only boosts their understanding but is also tremendously enjoyable.

I'm not sure the Department for Education and Skills had this in mind when it thought of "kinaesthetic learning in physics", but the result is a real deepening of pupils' understanding, as well as seeing physics in a different light.

Anu Ojha is a physics advanced skills teacher and assistant head at Great Barr science specialist college, Birmingham. see

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