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Ruler Dropping Test to Strategy Reaction Time

Problem statement

It takes every person a while to respond to any event. For example, there is a little hold off before you make an effort to catch a ball moving towards you or seeking to catch a falling a glass from a certain elevation. This time is named your response time.

There are many ways that you can evaluate your response time. A number of the methods are very easy (without calculation). One of the simplest and common ways of calculating response time is the ruler drop test. A lot of the athletes utilize this methods to assess their response time.

In our engineering physics class we were asked to use this method to analyze our reaction time. For this task we were to maintain small groups and evaluate everyone's reaction time by getting 10 measurements from each college student and determine who has the fastest reaction time. After taking the initial measurements we were also tasked to compute the errors of these measurements.

Coming up with a plan to asses this we experienced some major problems such as,

  • How fast is our response time?
  • With each dimension does our effect time increase?
  • Why we have a tendency to capture the ruler in the centre rather than the beginning?
  • How to boost our effect time?

After we have done this task we plan to solve each one of those questions while providing the answers to our assignment.

What is effect time?

In this method one of the students drops the ruler, the learner see it starts off to go and nerve signal moves from his eyes to his brain. The brain simulates the signal and directs it to his finger muscles which proceed to capture the ruler. The whole process needs between 150 and 220 milliseconds.

The procedure for catching the dropped ruler commences with the eye viewing the ruler expecting from it falling. Following the ruler is slipped, the eye transmits a note to the visible cortex (which simulates that which we see), which perceives that the ruler has lowered and its falling. Then your visual cortex transmits a message to the electric motor cortex (nerve stimulation) to begin the procedure of catching the ruler. The motor unit cortex sends a note to the spinal-cord, which sends a note to the muscle in the hands/fingers. The ultimate process is the procedure that makes a muscle to be tighter of the muscles as the hands grasps the ruler. Many of these processes involve specific neurons that transmit electrochemical communications to other neurons.

How to move forward the test.

  • What do we need?
  • An correct ruler.
  • Two people(one to release the ruler and someone to catch it)

How to continue.

When we do that test one person has to contain the ruler and release that ruler at an unpredictable time. When the ruler begin to land (the test) your partner (test subject) must pinch his fingers together catching it. This is his reaction to the falling ruler. The distance that people take (to measure) is the distance between the bottom of the ruler and the very best of the thumb where the ruler has been captured. It is very unlikely a university student can stop the ruler at the same distance twice in a row. Which means that we can get a more accurate measure of that student's effect time. We are conducting this test many times and take typically our results. For this assignment we take 10 measurements from each college student.

How to compute.

To calculate ones effect time we use another kinematic formula,


  • s= displacement.
  • u= initial velocity.
  • t=time taken.
  • a=average acceleration.


To prove the 1st equation,


We know that the first kinematic formula is,

Applying this to the next equation,

How to utilize this to calculate effect time

Because the ruler is decreased down,


To calculate the reaction time for every person we got 10 measurements from each individual to get a precise value. To get the most exact value we computed the mean of each person. Listed below will be the measurements we got.

  • Every value is on cm size.

As proven above we will use two equations to assess each ones effect time and determine who has the fastest response time.



Looking at the results we found, we can see there are four people who have a effect time of 0. 165s. This brings the thought of mistakes in this computation and method. What could possibly be the mistakes in this measuring method?

  • Thought processing rate is different in each individual. As I described above once i was describing response time to capture the ruler the test subjects muscle has to work. Depending on the thought processing speed it varies. Because we live taking average metes of each person you can see all the averages are on the same range. That means even if one person went too far with the meters they can meet up with others with fast effect time.
  • Other thing is because the measuring system is analogue, people can make blunders including the one who is shedding the ruler is not consistent with his work (shedding the ruler). That can lead to problems.


Ruler dropping test could possibly be the easiest way of measuring reaction time but it has its own pros and cons. This method requires very nominal amount of what to perform the test. This technique also not need a specialized rate to conduct the ensure that you can be easily set up for the test. However there are few cons as well like this requires at least one associate to support the test subject matter. Also because it's simple it can be incorrect when it comes to the calculations as we can easily see above. Inside our given assignment we were to discover a way to gauge the response time using the ruler drop test. This leaves us with only 1 question, is it reliable to assess our response time with this technique?


  1. [1]B. Mackenzie, "Ruler Drop Test", Brianmac. co. uk, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www. brianmac. co. uk/rulerdrop. htm. [Accessed: 22- Mar- 2017].
  1. [2]"File:REACTION. DOC", Physics. nmsu. edu, 2017. [Online]. Available: http://physics. nmsu. edu/research/lab110g/html/AREACTION. html. [Accessed: 22- Mar- 2017].
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