In my previous post, I was so enamored with a group’s creation of the average velocity step graph that I neglected to check that group’s math.
Turns out they calculated the average velocity using the total distance rather than the interval distance. In other words, they simply took the distance column and divided by the time column. (Just goes to show how fragile students’ knowledge is, and how subtlety and nuance are difficult for students to grasp.)
So I graphed their data again, this time using steps that start at t=0 (in black below). This meant the steps overlapped and it was hard for me to see the “best fit line” in this case (also in black) though this time there is no intercept.
In red, I calculated and graphed the interval average velocity that I thought they had done originally. Yikes! The average velocity is all over the place. Small timing errors seem to have a much bigger effect for the interval velocities.
I still like the activity, but I don’t want to make it more complicated than necessary, especially with errors in the interval velocities.
Now what should I do next year? Have everyone do it their own way first and then repeat data collection having everyone use time as independent variable? Skip the velocity graphing altogether (my original intention, until I saw the students’ step graph)?
Thanks for your help!