Measurement is one of the core NCTM Principals and Standards for School Mathematics content standards, and rate is central to its practical application. While most middle school students know the distance-rate-time formula, they may still benefit from a closer study of the relationship.

Understanding Distance, Speed, and Time Relationships
Students see two runners move along a track. As they change the speeds and starting points of the runners, they watch the race but also examine a graph of the time-versus-distance relationship. Excellent questions guide the class as they investigate the scenario from several angles.

The Stowaway Adventure: Adventures on the High Seas
In this multidisciplinary Internet-based project, students use real-time data collected online to track a real ship at sea, determine its destination, and predict when it will arrive. An important question in this engaging math adventure is: If my ship has moved from this location to that in 6 hours, how fast is it traveling? Complete lesson plans are included, as well as detailed directions for teachers on how to access maritime data online. The data can be gathered ahead of time if no computer is available to the class.

Tern Turn: Are We There Yet?
This activity challenges students to calculate, given the rate and hours per day in flight, how many days an arctic tern would require to fly the 9,000-mile round trip from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica. Related questions ask students to calculate rates and distances for additional animal migrations. Answers to all questions and additional resource suggestions are provided.

Finding Our Top Speed
In this lesson, students use a real-world, hands-on activity to develop their understanding of time and distance. Students use a stopwatch to measure how far each of them can walk in 8 seconds. They also measure the time it takes each of them to walk various distances. After collecting the data, they create a human graph, bar graphs, and line graphs of distance versus time. An insightful visual of the relationship between distance, rate, and time!

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 10/13/2011.


3 thoughts on “Distance-Rate-Time

  1. If a car travels a distance of 86 km. If the average speed was 8 m/s, how many hours were required for the trip?

  2. Zoe, you might want to change those 86 km into meters first. Each km equals how many meters? Then you could figure how many seconds it would take to go the distance. After you have figured the seconds, you need to change that many seconds into hours. Hope this helps!

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