Science Project:

Slow Down! How Do Road-Side Objects Influence Drivers?

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Research Questions:

  • What item affects the speed of passing drivers most?
  • Are male or female drivers more influenced by road-side objects?

Does spotting a baby carriage cause drivers to slow down? In this experiment, students will investigate if the presence of certain items near a street affects the speed of passing cars.

Materials:

  • Radar gun
  • Notebook for recording speed
  • Baby carriage
  • Bicycle
  • Garage sale sign
  • Any other items that you want to test

Experimental Procedure

  1. Identify objects that you think might influence the speed of drivers as they navigate a local residential street. Items could include a baby carriage, a bicycle, a backpack, a garage sale sign, etc…
  2. Find a place where you can accurately record speed with the radar gun but are out of sight.
  3. Without anything in the street, record the speed of fifty consecutive cars.
  4. Record whether each car was driven by a male or female.
  5. Place one of the objects that you select on the side of the street (not in the street!) about 25-50 yards in front of the recording spot.
  6. Record the speed of fifty consecutive cars and note whether each driver was male or female.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with each object that you select.
  8. Analyze your results. Average the speed of cars in each group. How do the speeds compare with your baseline recorded speed? Which object slows cars down the most? Divide the groups up into male and female drivers. Are there some objects that affect male and female drivers differently?

Terms/Concepts: What influences driving speed?

Author: Megan Doyle
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