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published by the Concord Consortium
supported by 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 Java.
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.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in One Dimension
= Position & Displacement
= Velocity
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
Other Sciences
- Mathematics
- Middle School
- High School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Problem/Problem Set
- Dataset
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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Safety Warnings
Minimal Danger   No Safety Equipment Necessary  

Intended Users:
General Public
Access Rights:
Free access and
Limited free access
Access to web site is free. Users may register for additional free access to data capture, install probeware drivers, and store student work products.
© 2010 The Concord Consortium
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
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created April 27, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 14, 2016 by Lyle Barbato

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)

Patterns (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)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 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

11B. Models
  • 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.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
MP.4 Model with mathematics.

Geometry (K-8)

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.

Functions (8)

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.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/stem-resources/how-fast-am-i-moving).
SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving?, (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010), <https://concord.org/stem-resources/how-fast-am-i-moving>.
APA Format
SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving?. (2010). Retrieved December 17, 2017, from The Concord Consortium: https://concord.org/stem-resources/how-fast-am-i-moving
Chicago Format
National Science Foundation. SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving?. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2010. https://concord.org/stem-resources/how-fast-am-i-moving (accessed 17 December 2017).
MLA Format
SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving?. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2010. National Science Foundation. 17 Dec. 2017 <https://concord.org/stem-resources/how-fast-am-i-moving>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving?}, Publisher = {The Concord Consortium}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {17 December 2017}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving?
%D 2010
%I The Concord Consortium
%C Concord
%U https://concord.org/stem-resources/how-fast-am-i-moving
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2010
%T SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving?
%I The Concord Consortium
%V 2017
%N 17 December 2017
%9 application/java
%U https://concord.org/stem-resources/how-fast-am-i-moving

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Citation Source Information

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SmartGraphs: How Fast Am I Moving?:

Is Supplemented By The Physics Classroom: Describing Motion with Position vs. Time Graphs

An interactive tutorial that provides content support for K-8 teachers on the meaning of shape for a Position vs. Time graph.

relation by Caroline Hall
Supplements Conceptual Development About Motion and Force in Elementary and Middle School Students

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.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Part Of Concord Consortium: SmartGraphs

A link to the full collection of interactive activities developed by Concord Consortium's SmartGraphs project.

relation by Caroline Hall

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