The Science Behind the Shoe

Sports shoes: then and now

This activity demonstrates the changes in shoe design throughout the ages and highlights the importance of design in making a shoe fit for purpose.


The activity consists of a set of two shoe cards relating to five different sports: cricket, skiing, football, roller skating and ballet.


Print and cut out the shoe cards from the Shoe Matching Cards PowerPoint resource ( also available as a PDF). Ask the children to match the correct old shoe with the new shoe that is used for the same sport. They can also work out which sport each pair is for.


After the children have had time to discuss the cards, gather together for feedback and use the Sports Shoes Then and Now PowerPoint resource on the Interactive Whiteboard to show the correct pairings.


Discussion points

Talk about the differences between the older and newer shoes.

  • Which are the most different?
  • Why do the children think this is?
  • Discuss the development of design and materials.

The children can go on to carry out their own research into when the shoes have changed (if at all), and why.


Additional discussion points - ask the children:

  • What other sports do you play?
  • What shoes do you wear for them?
  • Are there any sports that don't need shoes? (swimming, gymnastics, martial arts, etc.)
  • Why don't you need shoes for these sports?
Need another activity?  Download the 'Trainer Trials' experiment and challenge your class to design the perfect trainer for the playground, thinking about material, tread and fastening.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Northampton Museum and Art Gallery | 
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