Reaction Time Game



The Reaction Time Game for Kids

Posted by Admin / in Science Games

Teach kids to build a simple experiment to test players reaction time. Building what is needed to test reaction time is simple, but playing the game is fun. Kids will want to try to improve their reaction time by playing more than once.

Materials Needed

  • 1.5" (3.8 cm) diameter PVC - about 2 feet needed (0.6 meters)
  • Permanent marker
  • Drinking straw
  • Duct tape
  • Ruler (Enlish Units or Metric) -
  • Calculator
  • Phone book or pillow -
  • At least 2 people to play


Step 1. Have an adult cut or purchase a 2 foot (0.6 meter) piece of PVC pipe. Use pipe with a diameter of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). We found a piece pre-cut at the local Lowes store.

A 2 foot (0.6 meter) piece of PVC is needed to play the reaction time game.

Step 2. Tape a straw to the bottom of the PVC.

Step 3. Since not all kid's are the same and we want to make the game fair, all the measurements are from the bottom of the hand. We will now make marks on the PVC representing time. For 0.05 seconds make a mark 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) from the bottom.

Step 4. To represent 0.10 seconds, place a mark at 1.9 inches (4.9 cm) from the bottom.

Step 5. To represent 0.15 seconds, place a mark at 4.3 inches (11.0 cm) from the bottom.

Step 6. To represent 0.20 seconds, place a mark at 7.7 inches (19.6 cm) from the bottom.

Step 7: To represent 0.25 seconds, place a mark at 12.1 inches (30.6 cm) from the bottom

Step 8: To represent 0.30 seconds, place a mark at 17.4 inches (44.1 cm) from the bottom. You are now ready to play the reaction time game. If you are using a PVC pipe that is 2 feet long (0.6 meter), a reaction time over 0.3 seconds is difficult to catch the PVC.

Mark the reaction times on the PVC.

How the game is played:

At least two game players are needed. Place the phone book or pillow on the ground. One player holds the PVC pipe vertically (circular opening facing up and down) above the phone book or pillow. Make sure they hold the PVC over the phone book or pillow and all player's feet are not under the PVC. The person playing the game who is testing their reaction time places their hand near the PVC pipe (not touching) with the bottom of their hand resting on the straw. When ever the holder decides, they can release the PVC pipe. Make sure they are instructed to drop it straight down without pushing it down or making it rotate. Once the player catches the PVC, the holder will measure the distance from the bottom of the PVC pipe to the bottom of their hand. Record this distance in centimeters or inches as "y".

To calculate their reaction time use the following formula.

We also made a spreadsheet that calculates the reaction time, use the link below to download the reaction time spreadsheet. Enter the distance measured and the spreadsheet calculates the reaction time.

Reaction Time Spreadsheet


Gravity has acceleration, meaning that the velocity is not constant. The longer the PVC pipe falls, the faster it travels. From the marks on the PVC pipe, we can see that over time the spacing of the marks is greater. Objects will continue to accelerate until reaching terminal velocity. Terminal velocity occurs when the object can no longer accelerate due to gravity because of air friction.

The average reaction time is in the range of 0.15 to 0.25 seconds which is perfect for this experiment. Concentration is certainly a factor with the reaction game. Theoretically distractions should not matter because the only thing the player needs to concentrate on is when the pipe starts to fall. In reality, distractions will stop the brain from processing a reaction to the pipe falling. If you have good players try to distract them to see if they have different results.

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posted by Admin