Reaction Time

The Concord Consortium
Type Category
Instructional Materials
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This resource is the fourth in a series of interactive simulations that help students make sense of human responses.  In this activity, students are experimenting to see which of their senses (sight, sound, or touch) has the fastest response time.  Students investigate the response time of each of these senses using the interactive simulations.  This lesson is designed to be done individually and the teacher has the ability to edit and assign the activity through the ITSI portal (( This link takes you to the landing page for the Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry portal.  Teachers will need to register for free to access the reviewed resource.   

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Middle School
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

MS-LS1-8 Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include mechanisms for the transmission of this information.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In this activity, students are presented with an interactive simulation/investigation that allows them to gather information related to sense receptors and the response to stimuli. As currently written, this resource is two dimensional (practices + core ideas). In order to ensure the core concepts related to this performance expectation are fully mastered, this resource will need to be a part of an extended learning sequence and there needs to be explicit integration of the crosscutting concepts. This can be accomplished by editing the resource (an option available after the free registration) to ask questions which will allow students to utilize the crosscutting concepts to fully make sense of the concept.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
In this resource, students interact with the animated simulation in order to collect data related to how different sense receptors react to stimuli. The interactive simulation/investigation allows the student to repeat the task several times in order to gather a range of data. Students are asked to respond at several different points in the activity and snapshot their data for later use. To further student’s mastery of planning and conducting investigations, teachers can edit the response questions to probe students on additional elements of this practice (i.e. accuracy of data collection, discuss how the experimental design could be revised, etc)

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students can use this interactive investigation to further their sensemaking of this concept. The simulation calls for students to make predictions prior to the investigation and to refer back to those in the end. Teachers may want to capture these thoughts as a whole class or have students create models to make their thinking visible. In order for students to have a rigorous depth of understanding of this concept, this resource should be part of an extended learning sequence that bundles several PEs together.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This resource is framed around students identifying the causal relationship between the senses (sight, sound, and touch) and response time to stimuli. In order to ensure students are using the crosscutting concepts as a lens for understanding, teachers should revise the student questions that accompany this resource so that the crosscutting concepts are explicitly addressed (e.g., What caused the patterns you observed?) More examples of question stems specific to the CCC can be found at

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource is structured to elicit students’ learning as they make sense of information processing . As currently written, this resource is primarily two dimensional focusing on the practice and the core ideas. However, the resource is adaptable and teachers can easily make the crosscutting concepts more explicit through questioning (e.g., What caused the patterns you observed? Does the pattern in the data support the conclusion that is reaction time caused by signals traveling to the brain ? Why or why not?) . The resource is weakly centered around a given phenomena of a baseball player reacting to a thrown ball. Teachers might want to edit the associated phenomena (e.g. traffic signals using lights and not sound) in order to ensure that the purpose and focus of the lesson is to support students in making sense of phenomena.

  • Instructional Supports: There are no instructional supports provided to the teacher for this particular component of this resource. As a result, it does not provide a full range of instructional supports, such as opportunities for students to build on feedback, guidance for differentiation, and scaffolds to support students in engaging in practices or applying crosscutting concepts. The teacher will need to provide supports such as translations, pictures, or graphic organizers to support students. Additionally, teachers need to seek opportunities to connect the learning to student’s home, neighborhood, community and/or culture.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The resource allows for teachers to collect student responses. However, there is no guidance given on how to monitor student progress. The student responses are not three dimensional in nature. Teachers might want to adapt the resource to create opportunities for students to show direct, observable evidence of learning for all three dimensions. Adapting the resource to have students construct explanations or develop models could be examples of authentic student artifacts that could be used as assessments.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The resources allows for individualization to the class and allows students to enter their own data. Additionally, it is well designed, works on a variety of devices through a web based platform and is is directly related to the learning objective.