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Following Directions





Following Directions

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  • Mathematics
  • Science



Brief Description

In this lesson from NASA, students explore the way astronauts practice and train to improve their efficiency in completing challenging tasks.



  • time and graph how long it takes to follow a list of directions.
  • determine how practice and repetition affect the completion time.


following directions, astronaut, practice, graphing

Materials Needed

  • a penny or game piece
  • a stopwatch or clock with second hand
  • graph paper
  • pencils

Lesson Plan

Astronauts use repetition and practice to improve their speed and accuracy in a variety of tasks. In the lesson Following Directions, students place a penny or game piece in several places on a grid in response to directions. The students perform the task several times and record and create a bar graph on graph paper that illustrates their findings. Students should be able to identify a trend of increasing speed in their completion of the task, proving the adage "practice makes perfect."


Note: The link to the article in the lesson (PDF) referenced above is not longer working. Click the link below to find that article:
OOPS! Preventing Human Error


Teachers can use observation and the students' bar graphs to evaluate the achievement of the objective for this lesson.

Lesson Plan Source

National Standards

MATHEMATICS: Representation

  • GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas


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Originally published 08/16/2002
Last updated 12/01/2009