Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Can You Calculate the Speed of Your Pet?

Edward Williams


What is the fastest wind up toy pet? In this lesson students will explore how to calculate the speed of wind up toy pets, average the speeds and identify the correct units of measure of speed.


The student knows that speed, velocity, and acceleration can be calculated, estimated, and defined.


- 1 Stop watch per group
- 1 Meter stick per group
- 1 Roll masking tape per group
- 1 Toy pet ( wind up or friction toy) per group
- 1 Calculator per group


1. Download and make copies of chart, one per student. (See attached file.)

2. Have all of the materials from the materials list separated in a central location to pass out to the students.


This lesson addresses the part of the benchmark that pertains to speed. The students should be given this lesson after the formula for speed has been introduced. This lesson will provide practice in using the formula to calculate speed. The concept that the units must be included for the numbers to have meaning must also be stressed. The computation of the average for the time trials must be reviewed before the activity begins. The difference in speed and velocity should also be explained during the lesson. Administer pre-test prior to beginning procedures.

1. Show the students the wind-up toy animals and ask them how fast do they think the animals can move?

2. Explain that after this lesson they will be able to calculate the speed of any object.

3. Create groups for the class. (The groups should have 4 students each.)

4. Designate each student to a position in the group. Positions:
- Experimenter- Releases the animals to begin the trial and mark the position of the animal at the end of the time trial.
- Timer This student only handles the stop watch.
- Recorder- The student records the information for the group.
- Runner/Starter - The runner is the student that is given the supplies for the lab. As starter he tells the timer when to begin and end the sixty second trials.

5. After the students have been placed in groups, make sure that all of the timers can use the stop watches.

6. Have the experimenter using the meter sticks to mark the beginning of the course with tape. Mark that piece of the tape -start.-

7. The students at the end of the each time trial will mark the distance traveled with a strip of tape. The students will mark on the tape -trial 1-, -trial 2-, -trial 3-, etc.

8. The groups should try two practice experiments to ensure that all of the equipment is working properly and the students can use all of the equipment before any of the data is recorded.

9. Have each of the students go to their positions to begin the experiment. Before the students begin, have them estimate the speed of the toy pets and record their estimates on the chart.

10. Have the recorder write the data in the chart provided. The recorder should complete the first two columns and the column for the estimate.

11. All of the group members should obtain the information from the recorder's two data columns.

12. Each of the students in the group should use the recorded data to compute the speed of the objects in the each trial, the average of the speeds, and identify the units of measurement for the speed.

13. The runner will return all of the equipment after all of the data is completed and on the data sheets.

14. Finally, as groups, the class will discuss the results of the experiment.The groups will also discuss the accuracy of the estimates as compared to the actual speed.


1. Students complete the chart to show that the they can compute the speed of an object.

2. The students will define the correct units of measurement.

3. The students will understand how to average the time trials.

4. The students will estimate speeds.


- The students can be shown how different speed units are needed for different situations.

- The teacher can explain the dangers of excessive speed in automobiles and the importance of safety belts.

- The teacher can stress the need for averaging to ensure accuracy.

-The lesson may be modified, extended or shortened to fit your school's schedule.

-The concept of unit conversion can be introduced for advanced classes.

-The concept of vectors can be introduced for advanced classes.

Attached Files

The pretest, post test and speed chart.     File Extension: pdf

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