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The Passing of Time

based on 10 ratings
Author: Crystal Beran

There is a common saying that, “Time flies when you’re having fun?” For many people the sensing of the passage of time is affected by the activities that they are engaged in. For one person, an activity seems to take hours while this same activity may fly by for someone who really enjoys it. Enjoyable activities seem to pass more quickly than boring activities, which seem to make time slow to a crawl. Whatever the activity a person is doing, time itself ticks by with an unyielding regularity (at least, down here on Earth it does). While some people sense time as passing slower or quicker than it actually does, others seem to have a remarkable grasp of the passage of time no matter what they are doing.

The purpose of this experiment is to learn whether people have an innate feel for the passing of time from a few seconds to 20 minutes. This experiment is also designed to find out how certain activities change a person’s perception of time.

Problem:

How accurate is a person’s sense of time?

Materials:

  • A few willing participants
  • A stop watch
  • Some books
  • Access to a track
  • Video games

Procedure:

  1. Work with each of your subjects individually.
  2. Explain your procedure to each subject. You will conduct four experiments that will take a total of about an hour and a half.
  3. Your subject will tell you after ten seconds, thirty seconds, one minute, two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes and 20 minutes have passed.
  4. Tell your subjects that they can ask you if they forget which time marker is next but remind them that you will not give any clues as to how much time has elapsed. For example, if your subject told you when the two minute marker occurred and now six minutes have elapsed, you will tell him or her that five minutes is the next marker, not ten.
  5. If your subjects forget to tell you as they pass one of the markers, they can inform you that they forgot one and should say, “I believe X minutes have already gone by. I do not think it is X minutes now.” If this happens, mark the information down on your notes and remind your subject to tell you when the next time marker occurs.
  6. Find a quiet room to conduct the first experiment.
  7. Have your subject find a book they would enjoy reading.
  8. Remind your subject to notify you after ten seconds, thirty seconds, one minute, two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes and 20 minutes have passed.
  9. Begin the timer and tell your subject, “Please begin.”
  10. Record the time that your subject alerted you to the time markers on a chart such as the one below.
  11. At 23 minutes, stop the timer.
  12. Ask your subject how much time has gone by.
  13. Record his or her answer.
  14. Next, take your subject outside to a track. Tell them to wave at you at the designated times. Remind them to pace themselves. Tell them if they need to take a break and walk that that’s okay, but to try to jog for the entire time.
  15. Remind your subject to notify you after ten seconds, thirty seconds, one minute, two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes and 20 minutes have passed.
  16. Begin the timer and tell your subject, “Please begin.”
  17. Record the time that your subject alerted you to the time markers.
  18. At 23 minutes, stop the timer.
  19. Ask your subject how much time has gone by.
  20. Record his or her answer.
  21. Take your subject back into a quiet room.
  22. Tell them they are to sit quietly and do nothing.
  23. Remind your subject to notify you after ten seconds, thirty seconds, one minute, two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes and 20 minutes have passed.
  24. Begin the timer and tell your subject, “Please begin.”
  25. Record the time that your subject alerted you to the time markers.
  26. At 23 minutes, stop the timer.
  27. Ask your subject how much time has gone by.
  28. Record his or her answer.
  29. Give your subject a video game that does not have an in-game timer (open-ended games work well).
  30. Remind your subject to notify you after ten seconds, thirty seconds, one minute, two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes and 20 minutes have passed.
  31. Begin the timer and tell your subject, “Please begin.”
  32. Record the time that your subject alerted you to the time markers.
  33. At 23 minutes, stop the timer.
  34. Ask your subject how much time has gone by.
  35. Record his or her answer.
  36. Repeat the experiment with a few other volunteers.
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