5-Second Timer Project
Introductory experimental design mini-project. Students build a device that mechanically times a 5-second interval.
Your assignment is to use any objects you can find to make a mechanical timer that can measure an interval of exactly five seconds.
- Your timer may not use electricity.
- Your timer may not use a clock.
- Your timer may not be an “off-the-shelf” item. If you use a pre-made device or object, you need to modify it in some substantial way that affects how you use it to measure five seconds. (Ask in advance if you’re not sure.)
- If your timer does something repetitive, you may count a specific number of repetitions. For example, if you have a ball on a string that winds around a pole, you may measure five seconds by how long it takes the ball to go around the pole some specific number of times.
- Your timer may not require human interaction after it has started (except for counting repetitions of some action, as described in rule #4 above).
- You must declare in advance how your timer will indicate when five seconds has elapsed. For example, having a gadget that flops around on the floor randomly while you count "one-
Mississippi, two- ..." is not acceptable. Mississippi
- You have a maximum of two (2) minutes to set up your timer.
- You may work individually or with one partner. No groups of three or more.
- Elapsed time will be measured by Mr. Bigler, using a hand-held stopwatch. Because of the limits of human reaction time, results within 0.1 s of each other will be considered equivalent. (This may result in multiple winners.)
- Dominoes (but watch out for the 2-minute set-up rule!)
- A marble and a track
- A Slinky on a flight of stairs
- A pendulum