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Does Reaction Time Differ With Gender in Year 9 Students? By Kris Heuston, Josh McFarland and Jay Small

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Aim / Hypothesis The aim of our testing is to determine whether or not there is any difference in reaction time between male and female Year 9 students. Our hypothesis is that reaction time is not gender related.

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Our Test Our method of testing is not a survey, but a physical test to determine reaction time. The test we performed used a ruler to record reaction ‘time’ so the results are in cm. Therefore, the higher the centimetres, the slower the reaction time. We used the ‘Ruler Drop Test’ to test reaction time. This involves suspending a ruler over the person’s hand, and releasing it unexpectedly. The person must clamp their fingers on the ruler to determine their reaction time. The diagram on the left displays how we performed our test. The ruler is dropped, and where the person catches it determines their reaction time.

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Method Our test was quite simple to do. This is how we did it: 1.Select 20 boys and 20 girls, all in year nine. 2.Set up an Excel Spreadsheet to record the data. 3.Test the reaction time of each student using the ‘Ruler Drop Test’. To do this, use a 30 cm ruler. Suspend the ruler over one of the student’s hand, keeping it very still. (See photo.) 4.Drop the ruler, unexpectedly, so that the person being tested must clamp their fingers on the ruler, but without moving their hand. 5.Where their fingers clamp the ruler is their reaction time, or distance. (The further the ruler falls, the slower the reaction time.) 6.Once all students have been tested three times, save the data. 7.From there you can analyse and graph the data, and prove or disprove the hypothesis.

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Results The statistics for our tests are as follows: BoysGirls Total mean reaction time 17.15cm18.75cm Mode reaction time 12,19 and 20cm 15 cm Median reaction time 18cm19.5cm Range of average reaction times 20cm21cm Fastest reaction time 7cm9cm Slowest reaction time 27cm+30cm+ Score (cm) MaleFemale Score (cm) MaleFemale Simplified Frequency distribution table of our tests: Some statistics:

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CM Boys’ reaction times Girls’ reaction times Box and Whisker Plot of Results 2 nd quartile median 3 rd quartile This plot shows that the boys’ median reaction time was faster than the girls’, and that the majority of the scores were faster for the boys’ than the girls’. 2 nd quartile median 3 rd quartile

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Review of our Results Our method of testing was a valid method, because we controlled all the variables, and kept the test the same for every student we tested. However, the way we measured the reaction ‘time’ (using cm) was a little bit inaccurate because it wasn’t a unit of time, rather a unit of distance. We decided to test the reaction time of male and female Year 9 students because we found it an interesting topic and thought it wouldn’t be too complicated to test. To fix this problem, instead of a ruler, we could have used an electronic timing system that would involve the person hitting a button when they heard a beep, or saw a light, signalling the start of the timer.

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We found from our results that there was a difference in reaction time between male and female Year 9 students. We found that the average score of male students was a faster reaction time than girls. Conclusion Looking at the frequency distribution table, the girls’ mode was lower than the boys’. (15cm compared to 12, 19, and 20cm.) However, on the Box and Whisker plot, the majority of the girls’ scores were slower than the boys’ scores, as was the median. To determine more accurately the difference between male and female Year 9 students’ reaction times, we could have tested many more students. This would have given us more reliable data. Overall, we determined that male Year 9 students have a slightly faster reaction time than female students.

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