Aiming for awesome: disaster relief


Funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR funds

RAF 100: Aiming for Awesome celebrates the centenary of the RAF and explores its engineering achievements over the last 100 years. There are 10 resources, each covering a different decade of RAF history. Each resource allows Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils to explore, through hands on activities, the applications of the knowledge they learn in science, design and technology, mathematics and computing.


1978 - 1988 Disaster relief

The aim of this resource is to give students the opportunity to investigate the impact of STEM on delivering humanitarian aid.

The RAF has a long history of delivering disaster relief within the UK and across the World.  For example the 1983-1985 famine in Ethiopia where they made one of the largest airdrops of its kind, delivering more than 32,000 tonnes of supplies.  In 2009, the RAF played a key role in supporting the residents of Cumbria after around 500 homes in Cockermouth were flooded.  

This resource encourages students to work in teams to consider what type of equipment is required after a natural disaster and how they would design a lander to ensure that equipment reaches the ground safely in the event of it being dropped from the air. 

Student activities


Time to think: the RAF has been asked to support after an earthquake in Nepal.  In groups, students should identify some of the things people need but don't have access to after an earthquake.  Using the cards provided in Disaster relief support sheet 1 (link below) ask students to discuss each item that is needed and to put them in order of importance as to what is needed first.  Discuss as a class, not all groups will agree on an order - use it is an opportunity for groups to argue their point of view.

Time to make: sometimes it isn't possible for aircraft to land to deliver aid, so aid has to be dropped from the craft while it is still in flight.  Students should work in teams to design a lander for an egg to ensure it doesn't break when it hits the floor.  Students need to consider how they can reduce the impact force when the egg lands hence ensuring that essential equipment dropped from an aircraft will land safely without being damaged.


The activities are expected to last 60 minutes.

What you'll need

The following items per group:

Student guide

The student version of this resource can be downloaded here: Disaster relief - student guide

Supported by

  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • RAF 100
  • 2018 YoE