the Concord Consortium
the National Science Foundation
This activity for middle school blends a motion sensor lab with a digital "SmartGraph" tool to illustrate how a Position vs. Time graph can be used to find velocity. First, students use a digital graph sketcher to predict what a motion graph looks like at different speeds. Next, learners use a Vernier Go! motion device to record their own walking motion. The data from the motion sensing is automatically transmitted to the SmartGraph interface via a USB connection. Scaffolds are provided at intervals to help students calculate rise over run and understand how slope of a P/T graph is related to speed.
This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Concord Consortium develops deeply digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering.
Please note that this resource requires
Editor's Note:This resource is a package that includes lesson plan and assessment with answer key. The Vernier Go! motion sensing device is available in many venues at a cost of ~$100. Users must register to access full functionality of all the tools available with SmartGraphs, which include graph sketching, acquiring/sharing real-time data, creating databases for classroom record-keeping and assessment, and access to authoring tools for teachers wishing to customize SmartGraph content.
1D motion, P/T graph, Position vs. Time, Position/Time graph, digital grapher, displacement, distance graphs, graph sketcher, graph tool, motion, motion graph, motion graphing, motion models, one-dimensional motion, velocity graphs
Metadata instance created
April 27, 2012
by Caroline Hall
January 28, 2014
by Caroline Hall
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
3-5: 4F/E1a. Changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces.
6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
9. The Mathematical World
9B. Symbolic Relationships
6-8: 9B/M3. Graphs can show a variety of possible relationships between two variables. As one variable increases uniformly, the other may do one of the following: increase or decrease steadily, increase or decrease faster and faster, get closer and closer to some limiting value, reach some intermediate maximum or minimum, alternately increase and decrease, increase or decrease in steps, or do something different from any of these.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M2. Mathematical models can be displayed on a computer and then modified to see what happens.
6-8: 11B/M5. The usefulness of a model depends on how closely its behavior matches key aspects of what is being modeled. The only way to determine the usefulness of a model is to compare its behavior to the behavior of the real-world object, event, or process being modeled.
Next Generation Science Standards
Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)
Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
All positions of objects and the directions of forces and motions must be described in an arbitrarily chosen reference frame and arbitrarily chosen units of size. In order to share information with other people, these choices must also be shared. (6-8)
Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)
Graphs and charts can be used to identify patterns in data. (6-8)
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)
Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. (6-8)
Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to identify linear and nonlinear relationships. (6-8)
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. (6-8)
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)
Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (6-8)
Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict phenomena. (6-8)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
Develop and use a model to describe phenomena. (6-8)
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations (K-12)
Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions. (6-8)
Conduct an investigation to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of an investigation. (6-8)
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments
Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)
MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
MP.4 Model with mathematics.
Graph points on the coordinate plane to solve real-world and
mathematical problems. (5)
5.G.2 Represent real world and mathematical problems by graphing points in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane, and interpret coordinate values of points in the context of the situation.
Expressions and Equations (6-8)
Understand the connections between proportional relationships,
lines, and linear equations. (8)
8.EE.5 Graph proportional relationships, interpreting the unit rate as the slope of the graph. Compare two different proportional relationships represented in different ways.
Use functions to model relationships between quantities. (8)
8.F.4 Construct a function to model a linear relationship between two quantities. Determine the rate of change and initial value of the function from a description of a relationship or from two (x, y) values, including reading these from a table or from a graph. Interpret the rate of change and initial value of a linear function in terms of the situation it models, and in terms of its graph or a table of values.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion Unit Title: Velocity and Acceleration
This activity blends a motion sensor lab with digital SmartGraph software to help learners see how the slope of a P/T graph can be used to find velocity. Scaffolding is provided at intervals to help with calculations. Requires a Vernier Go! motion sensing device.
%0 Electronic Source %D 2010 %T SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving? %I The Concord Consortium %V 2015 %N 28 August 2015 %9 application/java %U http://concord.org/stem-resources/how-fast-am-i-moving
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This cost-free article describes results of research in Grades 4, 6, and 8 on student understanding of motion. Findings suggest that students as young as Grade 6 can, with instruction, change entrenched incorrect concepts to construct accurate ideas about force and motion.