Texting in Physics

Upper School science teacher Tim Lauer has students perform a simple reaction test to determine whether their response time is affected by a common distraction — texting. 

Lauer shares the activity below.

“Gilman’s Senior Physics course takes a project-based inquiry approach to learning science. Every unit, the boys participate in a “Chapter Challenge,” which is a project with a central theme to which they can all  typically relate.

In this first unit, the boys are trying to convince their parents that they are safe enough to borrow the family car for a night out with their friends. Their first investigation in class had the boys looking at their reaction time and what happens in certain situations. Through a series of activities, they see how quickly they can react to a stimulus. Ultimately, we ask them to construct a text message while trying to complete the reaction time activity.

The results are quite hilarious —  but eye opening — as they show how much distractions can affect one’s ability to react to certain situations. Take a look.

Texting While Driving Causes:

  • 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council
  • 330,000 injuries per year – Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
  • 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY – Ins. Institute for Hwy Safety Fatality Facts
  • Nearly 25% of ALL car accidents

Hopefully after leaving class today, the boys have a sense of why laws are in place which ban texting and hand held devices in cars…and ultimately will allow them to integrate these into their chapter presentation.”


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