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ZingPath: Linear Motion

Driving and Velocity Graphs

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Linear Motion

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Lesson Focus

Driving and Velocity Graphs

Physical Science

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You will explore acceleration as it relates to a car moving along a road.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Define velocity as the speed of an object in a particular direction.
  • Define acceleration as the ratio of change of velocity over time.
  • Interpret a velocity-time graph.

Everything You'll Have Covered

The study of physics includes inquiry into energy and the physical properties of matter and their interactions. Kinematics is a branch of physics which focuses of the motion of objects. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. There are many types of kinetic energy such as: vibrational, rotational, and translational. Kinetic energy is measured as a scalar quantity, meaning that it does not have a direction; instead it is defined by magnitude alone. Kinetic energy is measured in Joules.

To get an object to move or change its motion, it must be acted upon by a force. The formula for force is F=ma. "F" is the total (net) force, "m" is the object's mass, and "a" is the acceleration that occurs. It can be stated that the net force applied to an object equals the mass of the object multiplied by the amount of its acceleration.

In physics, some of the terms we use in our casual conversations take on new meanings. For example, acceleration refers to a change in velocity, not speed. Like kinetic energy, speed is also a scalar quantity. Speed can be described as the rate at which an object covers distance. Speed is commonly measured in miles per hour (mph). Velocity is not equal to speed because velocity is a vector quantity (described by magnitude and direction). Velocity is the rate at which an object changes its position. The term deceleration (slowing down) is also not commonly used in the study of physics but more specifically it is described as acceleration directly opposite to the velocity. It could also be said that deceleration occurs when the change in velocity is negative.

No discussion of motion would be complete without mentioning the 17th century scientist, Sir Isaac Newton. Newton was responsible for the development of three laws which explain the movement of objects. His three laws have become known as Newton's Three Laws of Motion. The first law is sometimes referred to as the Law of Inertia. This law states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and that an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Newton's Second Law states that the acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object. Newton's Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 40 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts There are no specific pre-requisite concepts necessary.
Course Physical Science
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary acceleration, deceleration, motion