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ZingPath: Linear Motion

Truck On: Position-Time and Velocity-Time Graphs

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Truck On: Position-Time and Velocity-Time Graphs

Physical Science

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You will explore position-time graphs and velocity-time graphs and observe changes when they manipulate variables.

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Now You Know

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

  • Interpret a position-time graph for an object moving with constant velocity.
  • Interpret a velocity-time graph for an object moving with constant velocity.
  • Explain that the greater the slope of a line in a position-time graph, the greater the velocity.

Everything You'll Have Covered

The terms velocity and speed are sometimes used interchangeably in our common vernacular, but this is not accurate in physics. Velocity is a vector quantity, which means that it is described by both a magnitude (a numerical value) and a direction. Velocity is the rate of change in position and is defined by both speed and direction. Velocity is typically measured in the SI (metric) system in meters per second (m/s) or ms-1. Its scalar quantity counterpart is speed (represented only by a numerical value). When using speed as a measure, one might say that a jet was traveling 245 m/s. When using velocity as a measure, one might say that the jet was traveling 245 m/s northwest.

This Activity Object uses data tables, position-time graphs, and velocity-time graphs to help learners understand velocity. The graphs used are two quadrant graphs. To interpret the graphs produced in this Activity Object, we accept the starting line on the road as the reference point and thus it has a value of zero on the position-time graph. When the vehicle is at the line, the beginning point on the graph is zero. When the vehicle is to the left of the starting point, the initial position value on the graph will be negative. When the vehicle is to the right of the starting point, the initial position value on the graph will be positive. The change in the initial position value indicates that the vehicle does not always start moving from the same point.

An object that moves with a constant velocity will be a horizontal line on a velocity-time graph and a sloping line on a position-time graph. When the velocity increases, the distance covered will increase so that the slope of the position-time graph will also increase. Similarly, when the velocity decreases, the slope of the position-time graph will decrease.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 30 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be familiar with displacement, distance, distance-time graph, speed, speed-time graph, vector quantity, and velocity.
Course Physical Science
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary data table, displacement, distance