In The Schools

Valley Road Fifth-Graders Test Their Reaction Time

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In the picture above (from left) Alex Lopes and Matt Costeira perform the elapsed time experiment.   Credits: Clark Public Schools
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CLARK, NJ - In Kelly Williamson’s fifth grade class at Valley Road Elementary School, students performed an experiment about elapsed time. The students were studying how to collect, interpret, and display data.

In this experiment, students were able to work with a partner to record their reaction time. Each student used a labeled paper. One partner held onto the paper and let it go. When the first partner let go, the second partner tried to catch the paper. The students then looked at which tally mark their finger landed on. This told them how many seconds it took them to react and catch the paper. This was their reaction time. The students performed this experiment ten times with their left hand, and ten times with their right hand. The students recorded each time into a table.

When both partners had finished all twenty trials, they had to calculate the mean, median, mode, range, maximum, and minimum of their data. The students then had to compare their data with their partner’s data.  Once each student had interpreted their data, they shared their mean reaction time with the class.

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The class made a line plot displaying every student’s mean reaction time for their left hand. The students then created a similar line plot for the mean reaction times of the students’ right hands.

The students brought home the paper from the experiment and performed it with a family member at home. The students then compared and contrasted the data from their family member to their data from class.

Throughout the year, the students will continue to collect, interpret, and display data in a variety of tables, graphs, and plots. 

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