Summer Research Program for Science Teachers


Olu Omoloju

Bronx HS of Science

August 2003



Graphing motion with a motion detector



Learning Objectives:     Students will be able to:

1.      Use a computer generated graph to explain the motion of a body.

2.      Analyze alternative explanations and models.

Materials:         Motion sensor, computer, projector and screen, cart, rail.

Motivation:       Demonstration #1: Connect a motion detector to a computer that has a graphing soft ware installed.  Project the graph gridlines onto a screen or Television monitor.  Collect some data with the motion detector by having a student (preferably a volunteer) initially walk slowly away from the detector, stop momentarily and then walk toward the detector at a faster rate.

Aim:     How can we use graphs to analyze straight-line motion?

Development: The graph plotted from the motivation should resemble figure 1 below.


Question: Describe what is happening during sections A, B, and C.

Demonstration #2: In front of a motion detector, push a cart up an inclined rail and allow it to fall back to itís starting point.

Question: Draw a prediction of what the graph might look like.

Project image on the screen.  Graphs should be similar to figures 2 below.



Question: Describe what is happening during sections A, B, and C.

Summary:         Explain why figure 1 is different from figure 2.

Homework     Throw an object into the air and catch it at the same point it was released.  Draw a graph that describes the motion of the object.  Give a detailed explanation of your graph.


Standards:        Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design

Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

Standard 2: Information Systems

Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

Standard 6: Interconnectedness: Common Themes

Students will understand the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology and apply the themes to these and other areas of learning.

Standard 7: Interdisciplinary Problem Solving

Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.



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