Intro for Hands -On Exercises

Have you ever had a problem trying to get a specific concept through to some people? Here are a couple of ways to gain your students’ attention while reinforcing visual and reaction time concepts learned in the classroom…

Depth Perception (“A Pirate’s Challenge”)

Approximate Time:  3:00 minutes

Equipment: A cup and a handful of paperclips (or pushpins, pennies, buttons, etc.)

Directions:

  1.  Secure a volunteer participant
  2. Have the volunteer sit at a table, and place the cup on the table, about two feet away from the volunteer
  3. Have the volunteer close ONE eye
  4. Hold a paperclip about 1.5 above the cup, and move the paperclip around slowly
  5. Ask the volunteer to say “Drop it!” when he/she thinks the paperclip will drop into the cup if you released it
  6. When the volunteer says “Drop it!,” drop the paperclip and see if it falls into the cup
  7. Ask the volunteer to open BOTH eyes, and repeat the exercise
  8. OPTIONAL:  Try it again with the cup closer to and farther from the volunteer
  9. Discuss any differences in performance between using one eye and both eyes.  How is performance affected when the cup is closer to and farther from the volunteer?

Instructor Tip: Use an empty coffee cup with a lid, and store the paperclips in the covered cup


Cover the Brake

Approximate Time:  3:00 minutes

Equipment: Tennis ball

Directions:

  1. Have a participant stand, holding their hands clasped behind their back
    1. Instructor Option: Have participants hold their hands down to their sides instead
  2. Position yourself in front of the participant
  3. Ask the participant to try to catch the ball when you drop it
  4. Hold the tennis ball in your hand, at shoulder height
  5. Drop the ball without any warning (the participant will likely not catch the ball, starting with their hands clasped behind their back)
  6. Repeat 2-3 times
  7. Then ask the participant to move their hand to the front, palms up and ready to catch the ball
  8. Ask the participant to try to catch the ball when you drop it
  9. Drop the ball without any warning (the participant should be much more likely to catch the ball)
  10. Repeat 2-3 times
  11. Discuss how having their hands in a better position helped them catch the ball
    1. Explain that “covering the brake” does the same thing for drivers,
    2. They are “more ready” to apply the brakes if needed, when their foot is right over the brake, and
    3. “You have ‘primed’ your brakes, just in case.”