Authentic Problems: Reaction Time


This unit for Year 5 is one of a set of ten units in the special topic “Mathematical Inquiry into Authentic Problems”. Each of these units is designed around the 4D Guided Inquiry Model, and highlights the importance of students providing mathematical evidence. The lessons adopt a carefully designed pedagogy to help students master content knowledge whilst learning about the process of inquiry. 

The task is to identify the person with the best reaction time. Students learn about reaction times, then predict and measure their own reaction times using a drop-and-catch technique, or an online app. They investigate questions involving two categorical variables, such as whether time spent exercising changes reaction time. 

Read the Teachers' Guide (also included in the download) before using this resource.


Lesson 1: Discover Phase

Students consider contexts where reaction times are important. They learn about tests for reaction times, test themselves and plot the times on a number line. They compare reaction times with other students.

Lesson 2: Devise Phase

Students pose a statistical question to compare the reaction times of two groups of students. They devise a fair test to collect data that will answer their question and plan ways to efficiently record and display the data they collect. They participate in creation of a dot plot, and consider how to modify it to compare data from two groups.

Lesson 3: Develop Phase

Students use the plans from the Devise Phase to conduct a statistical investigation. They organise and conduct data collection, record and interpret reaction times, construct appropriate displays to reveal patterns and communicate findings, and make generalisations.

Lesson 4: Defend Phase

Students defend their conclusions about reaction times. In inquiry, the evidence triangle helps students to connect conclusions they make to the inquiry question posed, and to the mathematical evidence they collect. Students consider the findings presented by others and offer their own interpretations of data sets in context, as part of the reflection process. The unit is reviewed along with the 4D inquiry phases.


Last updated May 22 2018.