Submarine Lesson 3 - What forces affect submarines?

This lesson develops students understanding of forces. Students consider how the shape of a submersible will affect its speed of movement through water

Years: 3, 4, 5, 6

Duration: 60mins

Curriculum Objectives: 4

Subject: Science

Resource Overview

Submarine STEM 7-11 delivers a comprehensive scheme of work covering Materials, Forces and Living things and develops students’ ability to work scientifically. The unit is based on the exploratory submersible journeys undertaken as part of the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey off Bermuda, the Sargasso Sea (between Bermuda and Canada) and off Canada’s east coast. Using exclusive galleries, videos and online 360 VR technology students are fully immersed in the deep ocean. Students will understand the scale and depth of the ocean, explore and investigate the creatures which inhabit this inhospitable environment and consider how forces and materials are integral to submersible design. Throughout the unit students plan, carry out and evaluate scientific investigations, culminating in an exciting DT challenge.

Thank you to EncounterEdu for allowing us to share this resource.

Resource Assets


What forces affect submarines? PowerPoint

Students think about how forces affect submersibles. Why do some shapes move more quickly through water than others? Investigate the ideal shape for a submersible and conduct a fair test.


Submersible shape Investigation - Student Sheet 3a

Use this recording sheet to make predictions, collate results and draw conclusions.


Submersible shape investigation - activity overview

This activity allows students to test the speed at which different shapes travel through water.


What forces affect submarines? Teacher Guidance

The context of the lesson is a practical investigation to discover how shape and surface area affect the speed at which a submersible descends. Students develop their understanding of forces, surface area, and fair testing.

Curriculum Objectives

  • Year 5 (Age 9-10)
    • Explain that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting between the Earth and the falling object.
    • Identify the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction, that act between moving surfaces.
  • Key Stage 2 (Age 7-11)
    • Key Stage 2 (Age 7-11)
      • Year 6 (Age 10-11)
        • Year 5 (Age 9-10)
          • Take measurements, using a range of scientific equipment, with increasing accuracy and precision, taking repeat readings when appropriate