Lesson Plan

Position v. Time

In this 2-day lesson, students design an experiment to gather, graph and interpret position and time data using a motorized car.
Todd B.
Classroom teacher
Lancaster Mennonite School
Lancaster, United States
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My Grades 7, 8
My Subjects Math, Science

Students will be able to...

  • Design an experiment that effectively gathers correlated position and time data from a motorized car.
  • Understand the meaning of different shapes of a position v. time graph.
Grades 7 – 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Creating

Day 1:

Students design an experiment to gather correlated position and time data from a motorized K'Nex car. I use the Physics Union Mathematics project from Rutgers University (http://pum.rutgers.edu/), and the Forces, Energy and Motion kit from K'Nex Education. Students work in pairs to design the experiment, and are encouraged to think about the practical considerations of space and materials.

2 Direct Instruction

Day 2:

I record a ShowMe with data I gathered from my experiment. Student first go to the ShowMe link I provided to see how I graph, then use pencil and ruler to graph their own data in their lab notebooks. At this point some students will recognize they designed their experiment to gather the wrong kind of data. That is one step closer to objective 1. They will use my data for the graphing.

3 Guided Practice

Day 2:

Students are given two other sets of position v. time data for objects that are moving at a non-constant velocity. They will use the table feature of Desmos to plot the graphs on the same set of axes and compare the shapes. They will write initial statements describing the meaning of the shape of a position v. time graph.

4 Independent Practice

Activity: Investigating

Day 2: iPad or online with SimPhysics (iPad) or siminsight.com (online)

Students will use the Position-Time Graph game in SimPhysics to evaluate the statements they just made. When students create a graph, an animated car does exactly what their line indicates. Students play the game individually, but collaborate in groups of about 4. Any students that quickly grasp the concept, or the app itself, can become mobile "experts" assisting those with questions.

5 Wrap-Up

Activity: Assessing

Day 2 (or homework)

Students assess their own initial hypothesis about the meaning of the shape of a position v. time graph. They make revisions as necessary and record an accurate general statement about the shape of a position v. time graph.