Mathalicious: It's a Trap!

How accurate are police speed guns?

Catching speeding drivers is easy with modern technology. Police officers can stand at the side of the road and use a laser gun to instantly measure the speed of a moving car. But how, exactly do these speed guns work?

In this lesson, students perform unit conversions in scientific notation to understand how a speed gun calculates the speed of a moving vehicle. Then they apply the Pythagorean Theorem to see how those speeds are affected the position of the officer on the side of the road. In the end, they’ll decide whether or not speed guns can be trusted, and will learn about who stands to benefit from any innaccuracies in their readings.

 

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Measurement & Time
Middle School

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