Physics project tracks school day routine

Understanding the difference between distance, displacement


Noel Sarte-Saad

To help students further understand the meanings of distance and displacement, Physics teacher Mr. Patrick Waddington assigned a lab to collect data and graph their typical school day travel.

“We were allowed to choose our own partners and group,” junior Jamie Truong said. “Elizabeth and I decided to be partners because we work well together and barely get the chance to, I don’t think anyone had trouble with their choices.”

The overall objective of the lab was to emphasize 1-Dimensional Motion and exclude altitude when finding the distance from classroom to classroom. Students were told to avoid the landscape, entering the buildings and interrupting classes.

“A majority of the students were conflicted when they saw that they weren’t allowed to go inside the buildings,” Waddington said. “This made it harder for them to get an exact distance total of their school schedule.”

Students used different ways to achieve the objective. Some used measuring tape or measured the individual tiles on the floor, while others utilized alternative methods.

“I was expecting this lab to be very simple and easy,” junior Kathrina Bornios said. “But once we were actually doing it, we realized some methods are harder and would take longer to achieve so we had to work more efficiently.”

In the last 10 minutes before class ended, students went back to the room. There, they shared the final totals with their group members. As their homework, they will have to create individual graphs for the distance and displacement.

“This lab really helped my partner and I think of a quicker way to finish, especially since we weren’t allowed in the buildings,” Bornios said. “It was fun and now I do fully understand the difference between the two terms.”

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