Reaction Time Ruler Test
Here is a simple reaction time test using only a ruler, and a little bit of calculating. This is a good science class project. This test uses the known properties of gravity to determine how long it takes a person to respond to the dropping of an object by measuring how far the object can falls before being caught. An even simpler test, a variation of this test but not involving any calculations, requires making your own Reaction Timer. There are some commercially available variations of this test - see this review of Reaction Sticks.
- purpose: to measure reaction time, hand-eye quickness and attentiveness.
- equipment required: 1 meter long ruler or Yardstick, calculator
- procedure: The person to be tested stands or sits near the edge of a table, resting their elbow on the table so that their wrist extends over the side. The assessor holds the ruler vertically in the air between the subject's thumb and index finger, but not touching. Align the zero mark with the subjects fingers. The subject should indicate when they are ready. Without warning, release the ruler and let it drop - the subject must catch it as quickly as possible as soon as they see it fall. Record in meters the distance the ruler fell. Repeat several times (e.g. 10 times) and take the average score.
- Calculation: Calculate the average distance the meterstick fell. Use the table below to determine how long it took the ruler to fall the measured distance (distance in cm, time in seconds). The table is based on the following formula, where d = the distance the ruler fell in meters, g = the acceleration of gravity (9.8 m/s^2), and t = the time the ruler was falling (seconds)
t = sqrt ( 2d / g )
|distance (cm)||time (seconds)||distance||time||distance||time||distance||time|
- scoring: There is a scoring table on the make your own Reaction Timer page where you can rate your score.
- target population: sports requiring good hand-eye coordination and quick reactions, such as race car driving, boxing and racket sports.
- variations: you could adapt this test to determine the reaction time to a sound, by using the set up with the subject wearing a blindfold, and the ruler being released at the same time as an auditory signal.
- comments: results for left and right hands can be expected to be different, therefore this should be controlled for or at least the hand used recorded with the results.
- this test may be used in the assessment of concussion
- a list of reaction time tests
- making your own Reaction Timer.
- review of commercially available Reaction Sticks.
- Test your reaction time A fun test of your finger clicking reaction time.
- Video examples of Reaction Time Tests
- View reaction time scores graphical results of people's reaction time scores from the above test.
- About Reaction Time
- A gravity experiment using a bowling ball
- Science Fair Projects for Fitness Testing and Biomechanics