Hot Wheelin' with Speed, Acceleration, and Data Graphs

Jenny Panichi
Cook Elementary
Cook, MN
based on an orginal activity from T.Trimpe, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL via http://sciencespot.net/Pages/classphys.html

Summary

Students will investigate the motion of toy cars and collect data to analyze the speed of the vehicle between various points (positions) and overall speed. Students will then use the data to create graphs and analyze experiment reliability.

Learning Goals

Students will investigate motion and speed of toy cars. Observations and predictions of various varioables (type, size of toy)will be made with other student groups. Critical thinking will be applied while discussing the reliablity of the investigation. Speed, constant speed, average speed, and acceleration will be investigated and recorded using data graphs.

Context for Use

5th-6th grade
This lab can be completed in a classroom, although a hallway or gym/cafeteria floor would be ideal so that student groups of 6 are able to spread out.
This activity can be easily adapted for use in other settings, including the "vehicles" used.

Equipment needed for each group of 6 students:
Meter stick
masking tape
toy car
worksheets found in the activity description

Subject: Physics:Classical Mechanics, General Mathematical Physics
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8), Intermediate (3-5)

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will investigate the motion of toy cars and collect data to analyze the speed of the vehicle between various points (positions) and overall speed. Students will then use the data to create graphs and analyze experiment reliability.
Any type of toy car may be used including , Matchbox Hot Wheels, wind-up, or remote control vehicles. To perform the tests, create a "race track" and position five students armed with stop watches at various points along the track. Using a 5 meter "race track," mark off 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 meter positions. As the car passes each point, the students should record the time in their data charts.
Once the three trials are complete, head back to the classroom and use the data collected to analyze the speed of the vehicle between various points and overall speed. Students use the data to create graphs and analyze the reliability of their experiment.
Hot Wheelin' Physics (pdf) Student Handout (Acrobat (PDF) 8kB Aug25 09)
Speed and Acceleration Practice (pdf) (Acrobat (PDF) 5kB Aug25 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Challenges during this lab include keeping the car on the track, making sure it travels the complete distance, and making accurate time readings. These are points for discussion as we determine if our tests are reliable.

Assessment

Worksheets (lab sheets) will determine whether or not students are achieving the learning goals.

Observation of students inquiry during the investigation will be key to achievement of learning goals.

Standards

Physical Science -- Motion
1. The motion of an object can be described in terms of speed, direction and change of position.
6.2.2.1.1 Measure and calculate the speed of an object that is traveling in a straight line.
6.2.2.1.2 graph object's position as a function of time, and its speed as a function of time. Explain how these graphs describe the object's motion.

References and Resources