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Reaction Time: A Simple Method to Measure It

Reaction time is easily measured in this fun lab. But rather than using a stopwatch, we take advantage of physics and calculate the time segment by measuring the distance the ruler falls before it's caught. Is reaction time a reflex? Nope. The difference between the two is discussed within the activity.


Questions Answered:

  • What's the difference between reaction time and reflexes? 
  • Can reaction time improve with practice? 
  • How can reaction time be measured?


Topics Addressed:

  • Reaction time is a measure of how quickly you're able to respond to a signal. 
  • Reflexes are a nearly instantaneous response to a stimulus. 
  • Both reflexes and reaction times are fairly fixed and don't improve with practice.


Materials Needed

meter stick, friend


Preparation Time



Teaching Time 

About 20–30 minutes, longer with included writing assignment


Answer Key

Yes! Plus extensive teacher notes address the many questions that come up. You shouldn’t have to do outside research on this topic unless you want to. Specific charts and graphic organizers have keys. 


Target Audience

Middle School Students, Ages 11-14


Student Sheets

  • Scaffolded writing prompts & lab reporting 
  • Diagrams for labeling

Reaction Time: A Simple Method to Measure It


    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

    Connect with me: If you have questions or problems, please let me know and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


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