Distance-Time Graphs and You!

Lesson Plan

Grade Level:

6th grade

State Standards:

Physical Science 11. Explain and give examples of how the motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed.
Physical Science 12. Graph and interpret distance vs. time graphs for constant speed.

Essential Question:

What is motion?

Lesson Question:

How is a distance-time graph made to represent motion?



You have most likely seen and made graphs before in math class. Do graphs move? NO! But did you know that there is a type of graph that can show motion? It is called a Distance-Time Graph and in this lesson you will learn all about this type of graph and even make one that shows YOU moving!



You and your group will go outside and put yourselves in motion! You will record data as you move and then use your data to create a distance-time graph of your motion. Finally, you will share your motion story and graph with the class!


Lesson Experiences:


You will go to the computer lab to work through an interactive lesson about distance-time graphs from You will read passages, watch video clips from the PBS show "Cyber Chase", and will answer comprehension questions (answers can be printed out at the end of the activity). Teachers' Domain Interactive Lesson

HOMEWORK: Complete an online Quiz on the topic of distance-time graphs. Print out your results and turn them in tomorrow. Class Marker Quiz


Choose a popsicle stick as you enter the room and go to the corresponding table. This will be your group of 3-4 students for this activity.

Your group should write a 'motion story', similar to the one that you saw in the "Cyber Chase" clips from yesterday. Your 'motion story' needs to take place on the sidewalk outside the school. Your motion story should explain where you are going and what happens along your journey that might result in stopping or changing speed.

Your group will go outside to the sidewalk and will perform your 'motion story'. You should use a stopwatch to record the time of each segment of the 'motion story'.



You will go back to the computer lab and sit as groups.

First, your group will use a GPS mapping website to calculate the distance traveled in each segment of your 'motion story'. GMAP

Second, your group will use a graphing website to enter the data that you recorded yesterday in order to create a distance-time graph for your 'motion story' using a tool from NCES Kids' Zone. Create a Graph

Finally, your group should share your graph on the class website and post comments on other groups' graphs. Edmodo

HOMEWORK: You will individually create a Glogster digital poster that explains distance-time graphs. Glogster


As you have seen, while distance-time graphs do not actually move they can give us quite a bit of information about an object's motion. Distance-time graphs can even be used to predict motion and make decisions about motion, such as a trip that we are planning to take.

One limitation to the distance-time graphs that we have seen is that they use average speed, which means that they assume that an object is moving at a constant speed during each segment of its motion. How would a disance-time graph look for an object that was not in constant motion (speeding up, slowing down)?

Check out this App if you are interested in learning more:

Exploriments App



You will be assessed through your completion of the online interactive Teachers' Domain lesson and the online Class Marker Quiz. You will also be assessed on your participation in your group.

Finally, you will be assessed on your completion of your Glogster digital poster.

You will be able to....






Describe and analyze distance-time graphs

Provided evidence of sophisticated understanding of science concepts

Provided understanding of science concepts

Provided minimal understanding of science concepts

No mention of science concepts


Work productively in a group

Worked well with other members of the group at all times

Worked well with other members of the group most of the time

Worked well with other members of the group some of the time. Some teacher intervention needed.

Often had difficulty working with other members of the group. Substantial teacher intervention required.


Create a distance-time graph for your own motion

Graph is accurate and complete. Graph shows complex motion.

Graph is accurate and complete. Graph shows simple motion.

Graph contains some errors.

Graph is not completed or contains substantial errors.


Create a digital poster to summarize what you have learned about distance-time graphs

Digital poster shows sophisticated understanding of science concepts

Digital poster shows understanding of science concepts

Digital poster shows minimal understanding of science concepts

Incomplete or contains no mention of science concepts



Teachers' Domain Interactive Lesson
Create a graph
Class Marker Quiz
Extension - Exploriments App




Dog Galloping in Slow Motion (c. 1887)

By Photos made by Eadweard Muybridge Animation by User Waugsberg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Plate 709 from Animal locomotion by Eadweard Muybridge, 1887, Rare Books Department, Boston Public Library, Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons


Lightning slow motion.gif,7 December 2012,

By NOAA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons