This is a quick, fun lab testing student reactions times with and without a distraction. Students play a game online that tests reaction times. They then repeat the activity while composing a text message. Students calculate average reaction times with and without a distraction, graph the data and discuss the implications.
The lab is a great introductory lab to the process of science since it develops skills in identifying types of variables, collecting and graphing data and hypothetico-deduction. However, it could also be used in a unit on the brain and nervous system and to explore the biology behind texting and driving legislation.
Access to a laptop and cell phone is required although the lab could be modified to use a more conventional way of measuring reaction time (dropping and catching a meter stick) if laptops are not available. It works well at many grade levels assuming students have some experience using a cell phone.
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