Constant Velocity Card Sort

Autumn is here one day then gone the next on campus. We’ve had this odd up/down temperature fluctuation this week, which has made for many foggy days. Monday, as I walked home, I was struck by the fog rolling in over the nearby hill and enjoyed a high of 58°F. Today, it’s 80°F and sunny. Oh, and by the way, that building on the right is the dorm where I live.


Ok, that’s enough rambling about autumn in the Pioneer Valley. Let’s look at some physics.

My colleagues and I created a card sort for our students and the results were wonderful. The students have been working with five different representations at this point and our card sort left out only the data table. Here’s one page from the sort:

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 4.08.33 PM

While sorting today, students chose to work together in so many different ways. My favorite was this group that turned their sort into a kind of Go Fish game — each kid took all the cards for one representation and read off important details to ask for that card from the others. For instance, “do you have one with a velocity of +6 m/s and a starting point of -3 m?”


Many thanks to Kelly O’Shea and Brian Frank for sharing so many card sorts over the summer. Their work inspired us to create our own.

If you use and improve ours, would you let me know? Constant velocity card sort (on Google Slides).

One thought on “Constant Velocity Card Sort

  1. I love this idea! Multiple representations are so important for the basic motion equations and yet, I have seen the multiple representations confuse students time after time. These card sorts seem to be doing a great job in your classroom of driving understanding of what the numbers represent. I think it is so cool that the students thought of turning it into a game of go fish! What an incredible way for students to check their own understanding of the connection between the math and the physics. I wonder if you continue this activity once you move on to acceleration? The ability to read position vs time graphs and velocity vs time graphs show up all the time on standardized tests and it’s amazing how easy it is to make mistakes in those problems. It seems like your students are succeeding in building connections between each model of motion, which will make it easier for them to retain this information into the future.

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