Crash Scene Investigation

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Teacher's Guide

Recommended Grade Levels: 9-12 and up 

Tips for using the site with students      

  1. Students with math skills lower than geometry and trigonometry can do this activity, but we recommend providing some of the answers for them to aid them in completing the activity. Teachers are the best judge of their own students’ abilities, so we leave the decision to them as to whether this activity is appropriate.

  2. Before using this activity in class (or at home with your kids) go through the activity once to make sure it works correctly on your computer(s). If the activity does not load after clicking the 'start' button, you may be asked to download the free Flash Player from Please click yes, as this allows you to view the Edheads Crash Scene activity.

  3. If you are using an iPad or other iDevice, our games will not play without downloading an app or browser. We recommend the Puffin Academy browser, that is a moderated site limited to educational content for teachers and families to use. The Puffin Academy browser is FREE and can be found here.

  4. Your computer(s) will need to have some sort of sound output. Either speakers or headphones will work well. The majority of this activity has voice audio. We highly recommend headphones in a classroom setting. Hearing impaired students can turn on the subtitles by clicking the audio off button in the lower right corner of the screen. If you are having difficulty hearing, check the audio settings on your computer. Also check to see if the audio logo in the bottom right hand corner of the activity screen is on.

  5. We strongly recommend that students use a real mouse, as the touch pads on lap top computers are more difficult to use for this activity and slow students down significantly.

  6. Calculators are recommended but not required. If you and/or the students do not have calculators, the Windows operating system does provide one. This can be found in different areas on different computers. You might want to let your students know where they can find the Windows calculator at the start of the activity.

  7. In order to complete the majority of the Edheads Crash Scene activities, you will need to print and copy the Crash Scene Printout document (13 pages) for each student or group of students before using the activity with your class. 

    Click here to print the Crash Scene Printout.

    We also recommend having two students work together, one using the computer and the other using the Crash Scene Printout. If you use the activity this way, you will need one copy of the Printout for every two students.

  8. Students in the target grade-range will take approximately 40 to 70 minutes to complete the entire activity working in groups of two.  However, you can also omit parts of the activity as outlined below.  This will shorten the time taken in class.   If you are going to take two class periods to complete the entire activity, you can guide students back to where they stopped by encouraging them to use the ‘skip intro’ buttons and to hit the ‘continue’ button to bypass calculations and measurements already performed. 

    1. For science classes that want to emphasize science process skills rather than math skills, the teacher can provide the answers to the measurement and math questions.  This will significantly speed up the Calculations and Forces section or allow your students to skip it entirely.  Click here to print answers to the Worksheet section of the Crash Scene Printout, and then substitute this page for page 9 of the print out. 

    2. For math classes wanting to emphasize the math without spending the time on the science skills, start at the Calculations and Forces section.  You will need a drawing of the crash scene to provide to students, in addition to the Crash Scene Printout.  Click here for a completed sketch of the crash scene.   Only print pages 8 and 9 of the full Crash Scene Printout, available here.  The other pages will not be needed.

    3. For a public safety message for students in prom and graduation seasons, teachers can skip as many sections of the activity as they see fit.  We do strongly recommend that students do the Forces section of the activity.  To do this section alone, print out the Worksheet section of the Crash Scene Printout with the answers to the calculation section already completed, but the Forces section still to be filled in.  Click here for this version of the Worksheet.

  9. Assessment and Discussion:

    1. For an assessment tool, teachers may want to collect the completed Crash Scene Reports from groups of students.  These should indicate if students completed the assigned activity sections.  An additional assessment tool is provided in the post-activity quiz.  Click here for the post-activity quiz.  The last page of the post-activity quiz is the answer key.  If your students skipped sections of the activity, you may need to delete questions from the quiz. 

    2. After students use the site, additional in class discussion questions (which can also act as assessment tools) can be asked:

      • What was the purpose of measuring all the skids and gouge marks when only certain distances were used in the calculations?  (This will hopefully get students thinking about WHY various steps were taken. You never know what evidence may turn out to be crucial later and you don’t want a defense attorney to get a bad driver off). 

      • What building, tree or other object in/near this school is equivalent in height to the fall that the driver of Unit 1 would have had to make in order to equal the forces exerted on him in this accident? (You will have to figure this out for yourself, but a Google search for named buildings in Ohio, for example, produced their height in meters and feet in almost all searches.  Heights of buildings the students might be familiar with in other areas:  Eiffel Tower, Paris, France = 276 meters or 986 feet.  Empire State Building, NY = 381 meters or 1250 feet.  Chrysler Building, NY = 319 meters or 1046 feet.  Space Needle, Seattle, WA = 184 meters or 604 feet.

      • The driver of Unit 2 was given a five year sentence for vehicular homicide (more serious than vehicular manslaughter) after being convicted by a jury.  The jury determined that the driver of Unit 2 was acting in a reckless manner without considering the safety of others.  Do your students agree with this verdict?  This is a good time to have them consider that speeding can impact more than just the driver and the passengers in the car that is speeding. 

      • Are there any public safety or corrective measures that should be taken to the road, intersection or surrounding areas as a result of this accident?  (Students might recommend moving utility pole, trimming back vegetation more regularly or putting in stop lights/or flashing lights to indicate the potential danger of the intersection).  

Answers to Quiz Questions 

Q1: Logically, what is the best way to proceed with this investigation?
A1: Start from the final resting place and trace skids and marks back to point of impact

Q2: It is fairly clear that the back tires of Unit 2 did not leave skid marks on the raod.  Why do you think that is the case?
A2: There tires were most likely still rolling normally, therefore would not leave skid marks. 

Q3: Having seen the location and relative positions of the cars after the accident, what do you think this small mark might be?
A3: This is a skid resulting from the right rear tire of Unit 1 being pushed west.

Q4: Why are we rounding down and using the minimum post-collision speeds?  
A4: So that a defense attorney can’t argue that we increased the speed by rounding up. 

Q5: Is it likely that Unit 1 stopped at the stop sign? 
A5: Yes

Q6: Is there any evidence that the driver of Unit 2 applied his brakes before impact?
A6: No

Q7: Were there obstructions in the road or obstructions to sight lines that could have contributed to this crash?
A7: Yes

Q8: What was the approximate distance that a west bound driver, such as the driver of Unit 2, should have been able to see a car entering the intersection as Unit 1 did?
A8: 260 feet.

Tire analysis of the vehicles indicates that: 
A9: All tires on both vehicles appeared to be in acceptable condition.

Q10: Analysis of the Crush Evaluation for Unit 1 indicates:
A10: The car met required safety standards for protecting the passengers.

Q11: The driver of Unit 2 reported that he was going 55 mph.  Do you agree with this statement?
A11: No

Q12: If you were to charge one of the drivers with a violation, which driver would it be?
A12: Driver of Unit 2

If you had to say that there was one primary contributing factor to this accident, what was that factor? 
A13: Excessive speed

Q14: If there were lesser contributing factors to this accident, what would you say they were?
A14: Utility pole and vegetation blocking view of other traffic for both drivers.

Q15: Two of the three people in Unit 1 died within seconds of the accident.  The third died shortly thereafter.  There was some blood on the scene, but not enough to account for the deaths.  What killed these three people?
A15: The force of the collision was sufficient to damage internal organs and impair brain function.

Q16: The two people in Unit 2 both survived.  Why did they not die as the people in Unit 1 did?
A16: Unit 2 continued in the direction it was initially going after impact.  The crushing forces would not have been nearly as high as those for Unit 1.

Next Generation Science Standards

High School Physical Science

HS-PS2-1 Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.

[Clarification Statement: Examples of data could include tables or graphs of position or velocity as a function of time for objects subject to a net unbalanced force, such as a falling object, an object rolling down a ramp, or a moving object being pulled by a constant force.]

[Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to one-dimensional motion and to macroscopic objects moving at non-relativistic speeds.]

High School Engineering, Technology, and the Applications of Science

HS-ETS1-4 Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.

High School Math

HSF-BF.A.1 Write a function that describes a relationship between two quantities.

HSF-BF.A.2 Write arithmetic and geometric sequences both recursively and with an explicit formula, use them to model situations, and translate between the two forms.

HSG-MG.A.3 Apply geometric methods to solve design problems

HSN-VM.A.3 (+) Solve problems involving velocity and other quantities that can be represented by vectors.

High School ELA

RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

RST.9-10.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.

RST.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9–10 texts and topics.

RST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.

RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

RST.11-12.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.

RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11–12 texts and topics.

RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

RST.11-12.8 Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.

RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.

Ohio Science Standards – Benchmarks and Indicators 

Physical Sciences

Grade 9:

  1. Explain how an object's kinetic energy depends on its mass and its speed (KEmv2).
  2. Demonstrate that motion is a measurable quantity that depends on the observer's frame of reference and describe the object's motion in terms of position, velocity, acceleration and time.
  3. Demonstrate that any object does not accelerate (remains at rest or maintains a constant speed and direction of motion) unless an unbalanced (net) force acts on it.
  4. Demonstrate the ways in which frictional forces constrain the motion of objects (e.g., a car traveling around a curve, a block on an inclined plane, a person running, an airplane in flight).

Grade 12:

  1. Use and apply the laws of motion to analyze, describe and predict the effects of forces on the motions of objects mathematically.

Scientific Inquiry

Grade 9:

  1. Distinguish between observations and inferences given a scientific situation.
  2. Construct, interpret and apply physical and conceptual models that represent or explain systems, objects, events or concepts.
  3. Decide what degree of precision based on the data is adequate and round off the results of calculator operations to the proper number of significant figures to reasonably reflect those of the inputs.
  4. Develop oral and written presentations using clear language, accurate data, appropriate graphs, tables, maps and available technology.
  5. Draw logical conclusions based on scientific knowledge and evidence from investigations.

Grade 10:

  1. Present scientific findings using clear language, accurate data, appropriate graphs, tables, maps and available technology.
  2. Use mathematical models to predict and analyze natural phenomena.
  3. Draw conclusions from inquiries based on scientific knowledge and principles, the use of logic and evidence (data) from investigations.

Grade 11:

  1. Design and carry out scientific inquiry (investigation), communicate and critique results through peer review.
  2. Explain why the methods of an investigation are based on the questions being asked.
  3. Summarize data and construct a reasonable argument based on those data and other known information.

Scientific Ways of Knowing

Grade 9:

  1. Investigate how the knowledge, skills and interests learned in science classes apply to the careers students plan to pursue.

Grade 11:

  1. Explain how natural and human-induced hazards present the need for humans to assess potential danger and risk. Many changes in the environment designed by humans bring benefits to society as well as cause risks.
  2. Describe costs and trade-offs of various hazards – ranging from those with minor risk to a few people, to major catastrophes with major risk to many people. The scale of events and the accuracy with which scientists and engineers can (and cannot) predict events are important considerations.
  3. Research the role of science and technology in careers that students plan to pursue.

Ohio Math Standards - Grade Level Indicators

Physical Sciences

Grade 9:

  1. Number, Number Sense - Demonstrate fluency in computations using real numbers.
  2. Measurement – Solve problems involving unit conversion for situations involving distances, areas, volumes and rates within the same measurement system.

Grade 10:

Patterns, Functions and Algebra:

  1. Solve equations and formulas for a specific variable.
  2. Solve simple linear and nonlinear equations and inequalities having square roots and coefficients and solutions.
  3. Solve real-world problems that can be modeled using linear, quadratic, exponential or square root functions.
  4. Solve real-world problems that can be modeled, using system of linear equations and inequalities. 

Grade 11:

  1. Patterns, Functions and Algebra – Solve equations involving radical expressions and complex roots.

Grade 12:

  1. Measurement – Solve problems involving derived measurements; e.g., acceleration and pressure. 

National Science Standards

 Science as Inquiry:

  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry

Physical Science:

  • Motions and Forces

Science and Technology:

  • Understandings about science and technology

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives:

  • Natural and human-induced hazards
  • Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges

History and Nature of Science:

  • Science as a human endeavor
  • Nature of scientific knowledge

National Mathematics from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Grades 9-12:

Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates:

  • Develop fluency in operations with real numbers, vectors, and matrices, using mental computation or paper-and-pencil calculations for simple cases and technology for more complicated cases.
  • Judge the reasonableness of numerical computations and their results.