BIOLOGY ACTIVITY
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Reaction Time

Purpose

To investigate actions that a batter can take to improve reaction time.

Materials

The Story

One of the top high school pitchers in the nation is Roswell High School's Jimmy Barthmaier. His fastball has been clocked at 96 miles per hour. He is sure to be drafted to play major league baseball.

Jimmy Barthmaier
Image from Baseball Prospectus

Batters in the major leagues do not need another good fastball pitcher! When a pitcher throws a baseball at 95 miles per hour, it takes the ball only four-tenths of a second to reach home plate. That gives the batter about two-tenths of a second to decide to swing or not to swing.

Can you react that fast? Many people cannot.

Is there a strategy for improving your reaction time?

As batting coach for the Detroit Tigers you want to find one or two ways to improve your batters' reaction times. Your team needs any help it can get.

Procedure

Read Fundamentals - Split Second Reactions to find out which variables you can test. Work with two partners to think of some strategies that might improve a person's reaction time. Read Skills - Testing Your Reaction Time and use the experiment described there to test the strategies.

Conclusion

Your team's advertising manager needs your results. If you find any strategies that work in the ruler drop experiment, prepare a strategy card to put in a cereal box that lists what batters should do to improve their reaction time. Be sure to include evidence for the effectiveness of your strategy. Also tell what reaction time is and tell which parts of the nervous system are working together during the act of batting. The card should use proper grammar, be attractively designed, and contain diagrams to help the reader understand points being made.
 
If you do not find any strategies that work, write a short report that lists the strategies tested, and the results that prove they did not work. Also tell what reaction time is and tell which parts of the nervous system are working together during the act of batting. The report should use proper grammar, be attractive, and contain diagrams to help the reader understand points being made.


This activity was developed by the Event-Based Science Institute with generous support from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. A teacher version of this and all other baseball/biology activities is available free from the Institute. This Reaction-Time activity was written by Barbara Dietsch, science teacher at Cabin John Middle School, Potomac, MD. 

Jimmy Barthmaier spent the entire 2007 season with Corpus Christi  (Astros' AA)...Went 2-8 with a 6.03 ERA in 16 starts and 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in eight relief appearances...Went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA (11.0ip/3er) in first two starts...Surrendered nine runs in 0.2ip while suffering loss in third start on 4/21 at Frisco...Was on disabled list from 4/23 to 5/14 with a right elbow sprain...Made back-to-back relief appearances on 5/14 and 5/20 (4.0ip/3er) before returning to starting rotation on 5/23...Went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA (12.0ip/2er) in three starts from 5/23 to 6/3...Picked up last win on 6/3 at Springfield...Pitched season-high 7.0 innings on 6/13 vs. Frisco...Lost his final seven decisions from 6/8 thru 8/1...Made final start on 8/8 at Arkansas...Made last five appearances in relief (8.0ip/7er)...Went 2-1 while making 11 relief appearances with Mesa during the Arizona Fall League.

Jimmy is now playing in the Minor Leagues as part of the Washington Nationals system.

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