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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Transportation Systems Engineering

Teacher Resource Center

Lesson Overview
Lesson Title:
Stopping Distance

Mr. Bob Williams (Primary)

Brief Description:
This lesson provides formulas and an experiment to measure the speed of cars on the highway and how it relates to stopping distance.

Topics Introduced:
Stopping distance of a car on a highway.

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Curriculum Framework Components Addressed:
Transportation Operations
Transportation Systems/ Infrastructure Planning, Management and Regulation
Health, Safety and Environmental Management
Suggested Grade Levels:
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade

Standards Taught:
12.1.2 Math 2006
12.2.1 Math 2006
12.2.3 Math
12.3.2 Math 2006
12.6.2 Math 2006

Lesson Information
Learning Expectations:

Students will be introduced to what a civil engineer does in designing a highway.
Students will use formulas to determine the average stopping distance of a sedan on a highway.
Students will discuss the factors that affect vehicle stopping distances on a highway.

Plan Of Action:

1) Introduce transportation system engineering.
2) Show a video to highlight the importance of
stopping distances.
3) Discuss out problem:
How to use velocity and reaction time to measure
the stopping distance of a vehicle on the highway.
4) Discuss how to measure velocity using a stop watch
and visual guides.
5) Introduce the formulas used to compute stopping

Data Set Used:

Students will gather their own data by timing vehicles over a fixed distance to determine their velocity.

Materials Needed:

Stopwatches for every 2 or 3 students
Worksheet to mark 10 times for vehicles
And to determine stopping distances.
Projector to show powerpoint
Calculators to compute speeds and stopping distances
Radar gun (optional)

Stopping Distance video (many available on internet) here are several links you might use:

Preparation Period:

Stopwatches need to be gathered for however many groups of students there will be. If the teacher has access to a radar gun, that needs to be acquired and the teacher needs to be able to use it or have a resource person available.

Implementation Period:

2 full class periods, 100 minutes
Algebra II 1st Semester

Science, Math, Engineering and / or Technology Implications:

Students will be able to see the application of Quadratic Equations to the stopping distance of a vehicle on a highway. This lesson can also be used as an interdisciplinary collaboration between the technology department and students in Precalculus.
Students will learn how a radar gun works and use it measure vehicle speeds on the highway.

Unexpected Results:

Students really enjoyed being able to use the radar gun to measure vehicle speeds. The chance to a technology they haven't used before is a good way to engage student ineterest and motivate them in a lesson.

Considerations for Diversity in Education:

40% of all fatalities in the 16 to 18 year old demographic are car crashes.

Lesson Files
Safe Stopping Distances Powerpoint
Powerpoint with graphs and definitions for safe stopping distances on the highway.
[size: 1341440] [date uploaded: Mar 12, 2010, 10:33 am ]

Worksheet for Stopping Distances
A worksheet containing a table for calculating speed, formulas for calculating safe stopping distances, and discussion questions.
[size: 12563] [date uploaded: Jun 17, 2010, 10:23 am ]

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