Recommended age group: 11–14
Time required: two 45–60 min sessions (with homework)
Equipment: Winter Games Quiz, Cool clothes for warm athletes activity sheet, computer for research, sketching equipment, equipment for making a prototype (optional)


Getting started

Start by checking students' basic understanding and knowledge about the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games by completing the Get Set Winter Games Quiz together as a class. You could also explore previous Winter Games with the Celebrating Sochi 2014 presentation. How do the students think the athletes can demonstrate the Values during the Games?

Explain to the students that they are going to be designing a piece of winter sports kit for one of the Team GB or ParalympicsGB athletes competing in the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.


To inform their design choices and to help the students focus on the sorts of weather conditions and cold climate athletes competing in the Winter Games must be prepared for, they need to carry out some background research either individually or in pairs.

Ask the students to find and record information on the following:

  • An Olympic or Paralympic winter sport of their choice, including the terrain and/or type of venue in which it is played, e.g. a mountain terrain or an ice-rink, etc.
  • The climate of their host city, including usual winter rain/snow fall and the average temperatures expected during February and March each year.
  • Materials and their properties including water and wind resistance, flexibility, weight and texture.
  • How an athlete competing in a winter sport will move and the implications this has for the types of clothing they need, e.g. free-style skaters perform acrobatic feats in the air so can't be impeded by loose clothing, skaters need to be confident that their clothes won't catch on the blades and, although it is cold outside, some sports (like snowboarding) work up a lot of perspiration so clothes need to 'breathe'.

Sketch and design

Based on the outcomes of their research, ask the students to make a sketch (or series of prototype sketches) of a new piece of sports clothing for an athlete competing in their chosen winter sport. This could be something to wear while waiting to compete or something that would be worn while actually competing.

They should also include a graphic or symbol representing one or more of the Olympic and/or Paralympic Values: Excellence, Respect and Friendship (Olympic Values), Determination, Courage, Equality and Inspiration (Paralympic Values).

Having decided on a basic design, encourage students to annotate their sketches explaining why they have chosen a particular material (e.g. it is waterproof, light but warm, etc) and style (e.g. it has flexibility for the movements the athlete needs, the length will avoid anything getting caught in blades, etc).

The students could present their ideas to the rest of the group explaining why they have chosen a particular winter sport, how their design would be suitable for an athlete competing in that sport and why they have chosen to feature a particular Olympic or Paralympic Value. Invite the rest of the group to feedback their comments and constructive criticism to each other.


Go the extra mile!

If you have the resources, and time allows, the students could go on to make their chosen piece of clothing.

Some students may be able to carry out the same process, but instead of designing for an athlete they could focus on spectators or volunteers. How are their needs different from those of the athletes (e.g. they won't be moving fast so hands and feet may be cold, it might be wet or icy underfoot when walking between the venues)?

Why not display the students' designs and finished products in a corridor or entrance hall at school.