Friday, May 15, 2015

Test Your Reaction Time (a Motor Nerves Activity)

Never have I done an experiment that required less prep or fewer materials. Our reaction time test activity was both fun AND educational.

We talked about how the brain and nervous system work together to help you react quickly to a situation and how messages must travel from the brain's motor cortex to sensory nerves, telling muscles to move. 

To test our reaction time (i.e. the time it takes for messages to travel from our brain to our fingers), we grabbed a simple 12-inch ruler.

This two-person activity is simple.

One person pinches the end of the ruler that is marked 12 inches, holding it perpendicular to the floor (i.e. straight up and down). The second person holds their thumb and pointer finger out at the bottom of the ruler without touching it.

When person No. 1 releases the ruler and it drops toward the floor, it's person No. 2's job to pinch the ruler to catch it as quickly as possible. 

What was the distance the ruler fell before it was caught? Convert the distance into time using the info below.
SOURCE: Sports Science by Jim Wiese

This activity and conversions came from a brilliant book of activities called Sports Science by Jim Wiese. Containing 40 experiments and the science behind them, this book is a must-read (with many must-do activities) for sports enthusiasts, curious kids, and kinesthetic learners!

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