Crash Test


Crash Test

Pupils use an ICT tool to explore the variables that affect the outcomes of car crashes. They make and test hypotheses, collect and present results.


Pupils use computer software to explore the impact of car crashes under varying conditions. Pupils select the variables of a car, a crash point and a speed, then watch an animation of the crash and see the results as the physical impact on a simulated dummy and as numerical data.

There are three stages to the software: researching, testing and presentation. In the research centre, pupils decide which data to collect, then they collect and analyse it and test hypotheses. In the test laboratory, pupils focus on hypothesis testing; they are able to test up to 14 pre-defined hypotheses and choose three 'test packages' in each case. In the presentation suite, there are tools such as varieties of graph paper and also help to prepare a presentation of their results to share with others.

Mathematical content

Control different variables systematically (e.g. speeds, design of cars, barrier types). Make hypotheses and test them by observation and data. Present findings to the class.

Specific Key Stage 3 National Curriculum areas covered include:

  • Key processes - represent and analyse a situation from the real world; interpret and analyse data generated; reflect on its meaning and communicate the results.
  • Number and algebra - use rational numbers, their properties and different representations; proportion; accuracy and rounding.
  • Statistics - apply the handling data cycle; use graphical representations of data.
  • Curriculum opportunities - work collaboratively on sequences of tasks in unfamiliar contexts; tackle problems from other subject areas.

Organisation and pedagogy

This Case Study supports five one hour lessons of classroom activity. Where appropriate, homework tasks are suggested to reinforce the work done in the classroom. A mixture of whole class and small group work is involved.

Crash Test requires creative thinking in Key Stage 3 mathematics with a particular focus on handling data, probability and percentages, as well as problem solving in a contextualised environment.

Resources provided

This Case Study is in the form of a self-contained software application for use by teachers and pupils. All the required resources can be accessed from within the application.

The "Teacher's area" within the software includes:

  • Teacher's notes,
  • Lesson plans
  • Worksheets to be printed out.

Individual pages of these can be printed from the application.

Resource requirements

(including hardware & software)

  • The software requires a Windows PC. A Mac version can be downloaded here (.dmg, 94MB) but it is only suitable for older Macs with OS X 10.6 or earlier.
  • Sound output and speakers (or headphones) are required.
  • Some lessons require a computer and data projector (or interactive whiteboard).
  • Some lessons require a computer for each pair or small group of students.