Education Technology

From Here to There Applications of the Distance Formula

Published on 07/02/2009

Activity Overview

In this activity, students' will use a pair of motion detectors to record the cartesian coordinates of a rod moving in a star-shaped pattern and calculate the distances moved between the vertices of the star. They also compare these calculated distances with direct measurements on the star pattern.

Before the Activity

  • Connect motion detectors to the DIG/SONIC ports of the CBL 2™ unit or the DIG/SONIC 1 and DIG/SONIC 2 ports of the Vernier LabPro® unit
  • Connect the CBL 2 or LabPro to the calculator using the Unit-to-Unit cable
  • Make a note of which detector will collect x-coordinates and which one will gather y-coordinates
  • See the attached PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity
  • Print pages 133 - 141 from the attached PDF file for your class
  • During the Activity

    Distribute the pages to your class.

    Follow the Activity procedures:

  • Position the star figure sheet and the motion detectors on the table
  • Move the rod along the star shaped pattern and collect data
  • Study the distance versus time graph and record the distance between the y-detector and the first vertex of the star shape
  • Trace the graph to display the coordinates of the vertices and record them in the Data table
  • Measure the length of each segment on the star pattern with a meter stick and record the values in the Data sheet
  • Compare the segment lengths calculated using the distance formula with those determined by direct measurement
  • After the Activity

    Students' will complete the Data Collection and Analysis Sheet and answer the questions listed in it.

    Review student results:

  • As a class, discuss questions that appeared to be more challenging
  • Re-teach concepts as necessary