Reflection: Complex Tasks Car and Ramp - Calculating Acceleration - Section 3: Student Activity (Lab)


Of all the activities in this unit, this one is the most complex and difficult to perform. I suspect that part of the difficulty lies in the fact that students in the United States do not have an intuitive understanding of the metric system and they are unable to visualize an object accelerating at 10 centimeter per second every second that it travels.

To be successful with this activity, my students need experience working with a single photogate (Car and Ramp - Student Practice). Understanding that a single photogate can record the time a car takes to pass through a photogate seems to really help students comprehend the concepts in this lesson.

I would also recommend that any teacher attempting this activity should have their students practice using the acceleration formula with Calculating Acceleration Practice. Experience using this formula is almost mandatory if you expect proficiency from your students.

  Most complex of all activities in this unit
  Complex Tasks: Most complex of all activities in this unit
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Car and Ramp - Calculating Acceleration

Unit 8: Motion
Lesson 5 of 6

Objective: Students will be able to gather data about the behavior of a car on a ramp as the car accelerates down the ramp.

Big Idea: Gather data such as initial velocity, final velocity, and time to calculate the acceleration of an object, something most middle schools never get the opportunity to do.

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car and ramp acceleration
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