Racetrack records

Find out more about runners on the track. Hold your own silly races and explore reaction times.

Bolt away!

StopwatchHas your child heard of a very fast runner called Usain Bolt? What do they know about him? He is the 100m world record holder. Ask your child why they think it is that Usain runs so fast.

Try going to an open space and walking 100m together (a pedometer that can be set to show distance is useful here). Emphasise that Usain Bolt ran 100m in nine and a half (9.58) seconds! Use a timer or stopwatch to see how far you can all run in nine and a half seconds.

Silly stepping races

Can your child come up with some steps that they think could be fast (eg skip, run, gallop, hop etc) and give each one a name? Predict which will be the fastest. Discuss why. Try covering a distance (eg 10 or 20m) using each step. Time each one. Were their predictions correct? Why do they think some steps were faster than others (was one more springy, did one use bigger strides etc)?

Hold silly stepping races - compete against each other to hop, crawl, skip (or whatever silly step takes your fancy) for 100m.

Did you know?

Your reaction time is the time the body takes to initiate a muscular response to an external stimulus (eg responding to the pistol at the start of a race). Reaction time is largely genetic, but there are some factors that we can control. Warming the body up beforehand increases both mental alertness and body temperature. This helps the mind to focus on anticipating the stimulus, and prepares the sensory organs and nervous system to transmit and act upon information. Practice can also result in faster and more consistent reaction times, as the muscles become accustomed to performing the movements required to react.

Winners wristbands

Use the Wristband rewards worksheet to make bronze, silver and gold wristbands for the winners. They can be coloured, cut out and sellotaped together.

Rapid reactions: talk to your child about how runners need to have fast reaction times. Explain that your reaction time is how fast you act when something happens, eg when a whistle is blown at the start of a race. The faster you react, the faster you will start the race.

Can your child improve their reaction time? Try taking it in turns to drop and catch a 30cm ruler and measure where on the ruler you catch it (record the position of the thumb on the ruler in centimetres). Try five times each. Are you better with your right hand or your left hand? Are you better with your eyes closed or open?

  • Try the Super Speedy interactive activity to see how fast your reactions are 



These resources have been adapted from Wellcome Trust's In the Zone initiative at www.getinthezone.org.uk

Under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 UK: England And Wales License you can copy, share and adapt the materials as much as you like, as long as it is not for commercial use.
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Last updated: about 3 years ago