How Wheels Speed and Velocity Lab

Learning Objectives: 

  • Write a hypothesis
  • Create a distance vs time graph using collected data
  • Evaluate the relationship between mass and speed (F = m x a)
  • Learn to read a motion graph
  • Calculate speed (the slope) using the point slope formula (m = y2 – y1/x2 – x1)


  • 1 Hot Wheel or Mini Racecar (1 per group)  
  • 1 Meterstick (1 per group)
  • 3-4 Textbooks* (Per Group)  

*Something to create a ramp

  • 4 Washers Stacked and Taped Together (1 per group)
  • Tape (Any Kind)


          Students evaluate the relationship between speed and mass by racing weighted and unweighted hot wheels down an elevated meterstick. Each group of students will develop a hypothesis statement supporting whether adding weight to a hot wheel will increase or decrease its speed. Students will then measure the time it takes a hot wheel to travel down an elevated meterstick at different lengths. This experiment is then repeated with 5 washers stacked and wrapped to the hot wheel to increase the mass. Finally, students are to graph the data as a distance vs time graph showing the differences in the hot wheel with and without the extra added mass.


          1.) Assign or have students arrange themselves in groups of up to four 

          2.) Have students write a hypothesis supporting whether adding weight to a hot wheel car will increase or decrease its speed

          3.) Hand out pre- taped washers, Hot wheel cars, textbooks and metersticks

          * Textbooks or any elevated surface works to create a ramp

          4.) Measure the time needed to travel 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 cm; when weighted and unweighted

          5.) Plot the data on the graph as distance = y axis; time = x 

          6.) Complete the conclusion questions and post- lab questions regarding motion graphs 

          * The speed on a motion graph is the slope. Have students use the formula 

          m = y2 – y1/x2 – x1


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