Print Reaction Time

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Introduction

In this activity, you will measure how fast you can react to three different cues: sight, sound, and touch.

Which of your senses produces the quickest reaction time?

Question #1

Reaction time is how long it takes an organism to respond to a signal.

Describe four different situations in which reaction time is extremely important. Describe the signal and the reaction that responds to it.

Standards

NSES Life Science – Regulation and Behavior
An organism’s behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment. How a species moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger are based in the species’ evolutionary history.

Prediction I

Question #2

You will be testing how quickly you can move a finger in response to three different types of signals: sight, sound, and touch.

Predict your reaction speed, and put the three in order of reaction speed, with the quickest reaction first. Why did you choose that ordering?

Collect Data I

Run the Light Reaction Test below. Click in the box to start the model. The color will change. Click again when the color changes. Try this at least five times, and write down your reaction time for each run. What is your smallest reaction time? What is your average or typical reaction time?

Reaction_time

Click here to start the interactive.

Labbook album #3

Take a snapshot and upload it to your Snapshot Album by clicking the “Take a Snapshot” button. To browse your Snapshot Album, click the album icon. A snapshot must be included for the activity to show as completed.

Question #4

Record your response below.

Collect Data II

Run the Sound Reaction Test below. Click in the box to start the model. Click again when you hear the beeping sound. Try this at least five times, and write down your reaction time for each run. What is your shortest reaction time? What is your average or typical reaction time?

Reaction_time_sound

Click here to start the interactive.

Labbook album #5

Take a snapshot and upload it to your Snapshot Album by clicking the “Take a Snapshot” button. To browse your Snapshot Album, click the album icon. A snapshot must be included for the activity to show as completed.

Question #6

Record your response below.

Collect Data III

A simple way to measure reaction time is the ruler drop test. One person holds the ruler at the end and drops it. The other person watches the ruler and tries to catch it as quickly as possible after he/she sees it drop. How far it falls is a very accurate measure of time, since the acceleration of gravity is constant.


Try this experiment at least five times. Each time, write down how far the ruler fell before it was caught. Then use the table below to convert this distance to time.

Try the ruler drop experiment again, but this time, close your eyes and touch the other person’s finger so that you can feel when the ruler is being released.


Try this experiment at least five times. Each time, write down how far the ruler fell before it was caught. Then use the table above to convert the distance fallen to reaction time.

Question #7

How do your results compare with your prediction?

Analysis

Review your snapshot album, descriptions of images and previous responses to help answer the following questions.

Question #8

1. Compare your reaction times in the light reaction test and the sound reaction test, in which everything was the same except how you perceived the cue.

Which reaction time was faster? Is it the same for everyone in the class?

Question #9

2. Compare your reaction times in the light reaction test and the first ruler drop test, in which you reacted to a visual cue.

Are your reaction times about the same? Support your response with the reaction time, in milliseconds, from each test.

Question #10

3. Compare your reaction times for seeing vs. touch, as you measured in the two ruler drop tests.

Question #11

4. Discuss why your reaction times might be the same or different for the different kinds of cues.

Question #12

5. Collect and average reaction time data from the entire class for each experiment.

Are the results consistent among different individuals? Discuss why reaction times might be different for different individuals.

Question #13

6. Can you think of an evolutionary or a physiological basis for why different modes of perception would have different reaction times?

Conclusion

Question #14

Which of your senses produces the quickest reaction time?

Concluding Career STEM Question

After someone has had their arm or leg in a cast, it is important that they re-learn how to use that part of their body.

Question #15

What exercises could you do to improve your reaction time?

Question #16

Have you ever seen a physical therapist to recover from an injury? Does it seem like a job you would want to have?

Further Investigation

Think of some factors that might affect reaction time. Pick one or two factors to test, and use one of the reaction time tests above to do an experiment to test whether the factors have any effect on reaction time.

Based on your experience in this activity, pick a situation that requires a quick reaction time. How could you decrease your reaction time by changing the signal (sound, light, touch)?

Try limiting the distractions in your environment.

Do you think your reaction time to sounds would be faster if you couldn’t see?

Making sure the cursor is positioned over the proper area, try the sound reaction test with your eyes closed. Do several trials.

Reaction_time_sound

Click here to start the interactive.

Labbook album #17

Take a snapshot and upload it to your Snapshot Album by clicking the “Take a Snapshot” button. To browse your Snapshot Album, click the album icon. A snapshot must be included for the activity to show as completed.

Question #18

Compare your reaction times to sound with and without your eyes closed. Are they different? Why do you think this is so?

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