Overview

The Ford Driving Skills for Life investigations are curriculum units designed to engage students in exploring the math and science concepts that inform safe driving practices. Each of the investigations, designed to be used in existing high-school physics, biology, or algebra courses, provides a hands-on, inquiry-based learning experience that deepens and reinforces the lessons learned in the Ford Driving Skills for Life program and helps students connect scientific and mathematic reasoning to their real-life interest in learning to drive.

Each investigation helps students understand the reasoning behind safe driving guidelines and issues. For example, in the physics lesson What’s Stopping You?, instead of being told to always wear a seatbelt, students conduct experiments with model cars to test how momentum affects occupants of a moving vehicle in an accident. In the algebra lesson Dangerous Weather, students derive and solve equations to investigate the effect of poor visibility on driving safety, and make recommendations for safe driving speeds in inclement weather. Throughout the investigations, students design and conduct experiments, hypothesize and test theories, and analyze results. They apply math and science concepts to critical real-life decisions, such as what safety precautions to take when driving in different conditions and how to minimize driving distractions.

The investigations are designed to take one to two class sessions and are appropriate for high school physics, biology, and algebra courses. The eight investigations are described below.  

 

Unit  Academic Course Description 
Night Vision and Driving Biology  Students design and conduct an investigation of how vision changes in different light levels to learn how safe driving at night is different from during the day. 
Reading “Real World” Science  Biology  Students analyze a science publication on drivers’ vision to practice using scientific knowledge to make real-world decisions. 
Ruler Reactions  Biology  Students conduct tests to determine the effect of distractions (such as texting or eating) on reaction time. 
What’s Stopping You? Physics Students conduct experiments with toy cars crashing into walls to explore how momentum affects occupants of a moving vehicle in an accident. 
If You Can’t See Me, Can I See You?  Physics Students apply their knowledge of optics and the law of reflection to test the statement often seen on buses and trucks: “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” 
To Tailgate or Not to Tailgate Physics Students apply equations of motion to analyze guidelines for how closely drivers should follow the cars in front of them. 
The Epidemiology of Inexperience  Algebra Students use accident statistics to calculate and compare the rate of accidents and analyze driving safety for different populations. 
Dangerous Weather  Algebra Students derive, solve, and graph equations to determine safe driving speeds in weather that reduces visibility. 

 

These investigations are aligned with the Ford Next Generation Learning approach to teaching and learning, which calls for students to engage in inquiry about real-world problems, and with the Next Generation Learning Standards, which encourage students to learn science concepts in the context of the practices of scientific inquiry.

Acknowledgements
The Ford DSFL investigations were developed by Education Development Center in collaboration with the Ford Motor Company Fund.

Curriculum Writers
Kristen Bjork
Susan Timberlake

Special Thanks To
James Graham
Kyle Green
Nolan Katerberg