Great Ways For Teachers To Use A Stopwatch

Most people use stopwatches for timing their laps while running, but a stopwatch can also be a great teaching tool. A stopwatch can be used to time students while they are taking a test. It can also be used to time students as they see who can answer the most math problems in a certain amount of time. Teachers can use a stopwatch to time science experiments or speeches. They can also be used to gauge the amount of time it takes students to settle into their seats at the beginning of the day or after recess.

Timing Tests

It is helpful for teachers to know the amount of time their students spend taking each test. Most teachers have an idea of how long their students should spend taking the test, and they can tell that the test was too easy if students spent much less time taking it than they had figured. A stopwatch placed in a prominent area of the room can help keep students focused when they are taking a test. They will be able to see how much time they have to submit their answers. Teaching students to spend the most time on questions that are the most difficult will help them later in life.

Speeches and Debates

The ability to express ideas and opinions clearly will help students throughout their lives. It is a good idea to give students a time limit for speeches because time limits encourage the students to share their ideas clearly without going off-topic. Teachers can use a stop watch to time the speeches so that each student has the same amount of time to share their ideas. Time limits encourage quiet students to share their ideas while holding outgoing students back from taking too much time. Many teachers take points away from students whose speeches are more than five seconds over or under their allotted time.

A stopwatch can also be used to keep order during classroom debates. Students should be encouraged to choose their own sides during debates about current issues or hot topics. The stopwatch should be set so that each person has the same amount of time to share their arguments and students arguing one side of the debate should not be allowed to take over.

Science Experiments

Time is an important consideration during most science experiments, especially ones that involve chemistry or physics. Students may use a stopwatch to record the amount of time it takes a ball to roll down several inclines. They can make assumptions based on the times they record. They may also want to record the amount of time it takes for a chemical reaction to be completed. Some reactions happen very quickly, while others take several minutes to be fully completed.

Timing Math Quizzes

Giving a group of students the same math problems and seeing the number of problems they can complete in one minute is a very common drill. It is a good way to assess which problems students have memorized and which ones they have to consciously think about. Putting several types of problems on the paper helps students that do very well in some areas and need help in others. Some teachers give prizes to students who can complete the most math problems in a certain amount of time, while other simply use the quizzes as a tool to figure out which areas their students need more practice in.

Time to Settle Down

It is often difficult for young students to settle down at the beginning of the day or after lunch and recess. Teachers can use a stopwatch to track the amount of time it takes their students to settle down in their seats at the beginning of the year. Teachers should give their students a certain amount of time to settle down after the first month of school. Many teachers like to have students settled within three minutes of entering the classroom. They may offer rewards to the students who settle down the fastest or give the entire class rewards if they are settled within three minutes of entering the classroom each day for a week.

Reading Time

Setting aside at least 15 minutes each day for quiet reading time is calming for most students and helps them develop a love for reading by choosing their own reading material. Using a stopwatch where students can see it during reading time is a good idea because they often wonder how much time is left and it is disruptive to other students if they raise their hand to ask. It also helps the students quietly time themselves to figure out how long it takes them to read a page or a chapter without having to be individually timed.


Almost any school activity can be turned into a competition with the addition of a stopwatch. Teachers can time how long it takes students to spell a word aloud or read every word on a page correctly. Some teachers reward the fastest students, while other reward the entire class if every student is able to meet certain guidelines. It is important that the rules and rewards are communicated clearly to the students before the competition begins so that students feel that the competition was fair. Breaking students up into teams or groups before a competition is also good because students have to learn to work together to achieve a common goal.

About the Author

This article was written on behalf of’s Online Stopwatch, which is a free, easy-to-use stopwatch that you use right in your web browser; there is nothing to download or install. This Online Stopwatch is ad-free and it looks great on a beamer or overhead projector. So, teachers, give it a try in your next class!