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written by Peter Bohacek
published by the Science Education Resource Center
This teaching method description outlines the use of videos for active learning in introductory physics classes. Direct Measurement Videos show events that students can analyze using physics concepts. Grids, rulers, frame-counters and other overlays allow students to make measurements from the video. Students use these measurements to answer questions and solve problems. These questions can be used with inquiry-based learning or modeling instruction.

This material includes best practices for using these videos, a library of videos, and example class activities.

This material is part of Pedagogy in Action, a library of resources for educators provided by SERC, the Science Education Resource Center.

Please note that this resource requires Quicktime.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- General
- Motion in One Dimension
= Acceleration
= Position & Displacement
= Velocity
Education Foundations
- Cognition
= Cognition Development
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Inquiry Learning
= Modeling
- Technology
= Multimedia
General Physics
- Collections
= Introductory Laboratories
= Introductory Mechanics
- Measurement/Units
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Collection
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Problem/Problem Set
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Educators
- Professional/Practitioners
- text/html
- application/ms-word
- application/pdf
- video/quicktime
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Access Rights:
Free access
Free for individual teachers. Please contact author for institutional use
© 2013 Peter Bohacek/ISD197
direct measurement, inquiry, kinematics videos, modeling, video, video analysis
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created February 11, 2013 by Peter Bohacek
Record Updated:
January 28, 2014 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
February 9, 2013
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H2. All motion is relative to whatever frame of reference is chosen, for there is no motionless frame from which to judge all motion.
  • 9-12: 4F/H4. Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on it.
  • 9-12: 4F/H7. In most familiar situations, frictional forces complicate the description of motion, although the basic principles still apply.
  • 9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.

9. The Mathematical World

9B. Symbolic Relationships
  • 9-12: 9B/H1b. Sometimes the rate of change of something depends on how much there is of something else (as the rate of change of speed is proportional to the amount of force acting).

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.

12. Habits of Mind

12B. Computation and Estimation
  • 9-12: 12B/H2. Find answers to real-world problems by substituting numerical values in simple algebraic formulas and check the answer by reviewing the steps of the calculation and by judging whether the answer is reasonable.
  • 9-12: 12B/H9. Consider the possible effects of measurement errors on calculations.

Next Generation Science Standards

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions (HS-PS2)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)
  • Analyze data to support the claim that Newton's second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration. (HS-PS2-1)
  • Use mathematical representations to support the claim that the total momentum of a system of objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system. (HS-PS2-2)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • Newton's second law accurately predicts changes in the motion of macroscopic objects. (9-12)
  • Momentum is defined for a particular frame of reference; it is the mass times the velocity of the object. (9-12)
  • If a system interacts with objects outside itself, the total momentum of the system can change; however, any such change is balanced by changes in the momentum of objects outside the system. (9-12)
Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • Energy is a quantitative property of a system that depends on the motion and interactions of matter and radiation within that system. That there is a single quantity called energy is due to the fact that a system's total energy is conserved, even as, within the system, energy is continually transferred from one object to another and between its various possible forms. (9-12)
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (PS3.B)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems. (9-12)
  • Mathematical expressions, which quantify how the stored energy in a system depends on its configuration (e.g. relative positions of charged particles, compression of a spring) and how kinetic energy depends on mass and speed, allow the concept of conservation of energy to be used to predict and describe system behavior. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity (3-12)
  • The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs. (9-12)
  • Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth). (9-12)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined. (9-12)
Stability and Change (2-12)
  • Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible. (9-12)

Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
    • Analyze data using computational models in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims. (9-12)
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information (K-12)
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to evaluating the validity and reliability of the claims, methods, and designs. (9-12)
    • Communicate technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (including orally, graphically, textually, and mathematically). (9-12)
Scientific Investigations Use a Variety of Methods (K-12)
  • Science investigations use diverse methods and do not always use the same set of procedures to obtain data. (9-12)
Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence (K-12)
  • Science includes the process of coordinating patterns of evidence with current theory. (9-12)
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)
  • Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)
    • Use mathematical or computational representations of phenomena to describe explanations. (9-12)

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.4 Model with mathematics.
MP.6 Attend to precision.

High School — Algebra (9-12)

Seeing Structure in Expressions (9-12)
  • A-SSE.1.b Interpret complicated expressions by viewing one or more of their parts as a single entity.
Creating Equations? (9-12)
  • A-CED.4 Rearrange formulas to highlight a quantity of interest, using the same reasoning as in solving equations.
Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (9-12)
  • A-REI.3 Solve linear equations and inequalities in one variable, including equations with coefficients represented by letters.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)
  • F-IF.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.
Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models? (9-12)
  • F-LE.1.b Recognize situations in which one quantity changes at a constant rate per unit interval relative to another.
  • F-LE.1.c Recognize situations in which a quantity grows or decays by a constant percent rate per unit interval relative to another.
  • F-LE.5 Interpret the parameters in a linear or exponential function in terms of a context.
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P. Bohacek, (Science Education Resource Center, Northfield, 2013), WWW Document, (
P. Bohacek, Using Direct Measurement Video to Teach Physics (Science Education Resource Center, Northfield, 2013), <>.
APA Format
Bohacek, P. (2013, February 9). Using Direct Measurement Video to Teach Physics. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Science Education Resource Center:
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Bohacek, Peter. Using Direct Measurement Video to Teach Physics. Northfield: Science Education Resource Center, February 9, 2013. (accessed 24 July 2014).
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Bohacek, Peter. Using Direct Measurement Video to Teach Physics. Northfield: Science Education Resource Center, 2013. 9 Feb. 2013. 24 July 2014 <>.
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@misc{ Author = "Peter Bohacek", Title = {Using Direct Measurement Video to Teach Physics}, Publisher = {Science Education Resource Center}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {24 July 2014}, Month = {February 9, 2013}, Year = {2013} }
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%T Using Direct Measurement Video to Teach Physics
%D February 9, 2013
%I Science Education Resource Center
%C Northfield
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%A Bohacek, Peter
%D February 9, 2013
%T Using Direct Measurement Video to Teach Physics
%I Science Education Resource Center
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%N 24 July 2014
%8 February 9, 2013
%9 text/html

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