RipStik in physical science: simple linear motion

Having been taught by my son to ride a RipStik® over the holiday break, I deployed this new skill in physical science class. In the past I rolled a marble past equidistant points on a table. This was easily replicated in an elementary school classroom and remains a useful demonstration. The demonstration, however, lacked any excitement, no pizazz. This term I rode a RipStik past columns that were 4.57 meters apart, timing my split times with a chronograph.

Only one of my students had seen a RipStik before - this is still a remote Pacific island -  and all quickly realized that there was a reasonable possibility of their instructor falling to the ground. Falling down in Micronesia is simply not done, even if the cause is an attempt to do something new. To some extent, one is supposed to practice in private and deliver perfection in public. So risking falling in the middle of campus had my students riveted on my 46 meter ride.
Time (s)
Distance (m)
Making an xy scatter graph, plotting the data, and finding the slope was assigned as homework. Having not tried this before, not even a trial run before class, I had no idea whether my speed would be steady enough to generate the linear relationship which I hoped to obtain. I did know, however, that small speed changes have a minimal impact on the overall linearity of a distance versus time scatter graph.

The result was highly linear with a slope of 1.28 m/s. I knew my split time on the first column pair was off, I was a tad early on chronograph lap button as I came up to the post at 4.57 meters. I had not even tried riding the RipStik while holding my chronograph and taking split times, so I was a bit unsteady at first. I had to watch the posts, not where I was going, a recently acquired skill for me.

While I cannot say that my use of the RipStik improved student learning outcomes per se, I can say that I had the full undivided attention of my students and this is always a good first step towards learning. A regular lecture on time versus distance would not have generated the same level of attention.

I continue to practice riding the RipStik - I find I am slow learner of new fast-reflex motor skills at my present age - with the intent of using the device later when the class tackles gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy. I am still learning to ride efficiently up a slope, key to that future activity.

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