The Speed of Toy Cars

Year 10 students have been exploring that the motion of objects involves the interaction of forces and the exchange of energy and can be described and predicted using the laws of physics (VCSSU133).

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognise that a stationary object, or a moving object with a constant motion, has balanced forces acting on it.
  • Gather data to analyse everyday motion produced by forces, for example, measurements of distance and time, velocity, mass, acceleration and force.
  • Investigate the effects of applying different forces, including Earth’s gravitational force, to familiar objects.


The purpose of the following investigation was to analyse the motion of a toy car.

Students were provided with the following materials:

  • Ticker Timer.
  • Ticker Tape.
  • AC Power Supply.

They attached about 1m of ticker timer tape to the back of the toy car, turned on the ticker timer and pushed the car across the bench. A series of dots formed on the ticker tape. It took a few trials to get the equipment up and running. The tape was marked and cut into sections in order to construct a speed-time graph. Students had to place the strips vertically upwards, each dot represents 0.02 seconds therefore 5 dots represent 0.1 seconds. The time (s) was place on the x- axis and the speed (mm/s) on the y- axis. Students were required to identify the variables including the dependent (‘What is being measured?’) and independent (‘what and I changing?’).

The following formula was used to calculate the average speed of each strip of 5 dots:

Average speed of each section = length of section/0.1.

You can see from the students’ faces just how much they enjoyed this practical exploration!

Roxanne Liemareff
Science Teacher