Featured in PASCO’s Physics through Inquiry Teacher Guide

Physics through Inquiry Teacher Guide


Features over 30 inquiry based labs covering the core topic areas of mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics, thermodynamics and more.

Speed and Velocity

Lab Summary

Use a motion sensor to test predictions of how the speed and velocity of a cart will differ.


This experiment highlights the similarities and differences between the concepts of speed and velocity. Students predict how the speed and velocity of a cart will differ, and then test their predictions by analyzing graphs generated using a motion sensor.


  • Sample Student Handout (391 KB – PDF)
  • Sample Teacher Information (588 KB – PDF)
  • Method

    Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

    • Predicting how a velocity versus time and speed versus time graph will look for a cart travelling down a track and back.
    • Assembling the equipment using a dynamics cart and track, as well as a motion sensor.
    • Measuring the actual speed and velocity using the motion sensor as the cart travels along a track.
    • Comparing the predicted graphs to the actual graphs.

    Sensors / Equipment Used:

    PASPORT Motion Sensor


    The PASPORT Motion Sensor accurately measures position, velocity, and acceleration of a target. Can be used to track the motion of carts, balls, people and more.

    Materials Used:

    Dynamics track

    Dynamics track end stop

    Dynamics cart

    Your Bundle Options:

    Option 1:

    Physics Starter Sensor Bundle


    A sensor bundle specifically designed to get you started using probeware in your physics lab. Also: perform 26 of the 37 Lab Activities from Physics through Inquiry.

    Option 2:

    Physics Standard Sensor Bundle


    Contains the probeware needed to perform all 37 lab activities in the Physics through Inquiry lab manual.

    Interface Required

    This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.