Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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Big or Small

Discuss the question: "Is 500 feet big or small?" Before you do so, carry out the following estimates.

  1. You are on the top floor of a 500 ft tall building. A fire breaks out in the building and the elevator stops working. You have to walk down to the ground floor. Estimate how long this would take you. (Your stairwell is on the other side of the building from the fire.)
  2. You are hiking the Appalachian Trail on a beautiful Fall morning as part of a 10 mile hike with a group of friends. You are walking along a well-tended, level part of the trail. Estimate how long it would take you to walk 500 feet.
  3. You are driving on the New Jersey Turnpike at 65 mi/hr. You pass a sign that says "Lane ends 500 feet." How much time do you have in order to change lanes?

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Page last modified September 30, 2002: G02