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published by the Physics Education Technology Project
This webpage contains a simulation that shows simultaneous graphs of position, velocity, and acceleration of a moving object. A simulated man can be moved by the user, or the motion can be programmed by setting the initial position, velocity, and acceleration. The user can also program the motion by entering an equation for the position as a function of time. A simulation can be played back at either real speed or slow motion for study.
This page also contains sample learning goals as well as user-submitted ideas and activities for use with the simulation.
This page is part of a larger and growing collection of simulations offered through the Phet website.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 1.4, Java WebStart of Java.

Additional context for this material is provided by the ComPADRE-SERC Pedagogic Service.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in One Dimension
= Acceleration
= Position & Displacement
= Velocity
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- application/java
- text/html
  • Currently 3.5/5

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Access Rights:
Free access
© 2001 Physics Education Technology, University of Colorado
Additional information is available.
Link to Material
acceleration, equation, graph, kinematics, oscillation, position, vector, velocity
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 4, 2005 by Amin Parnian
Record Updated:
August 18, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 22, 2005
Other Collections:

Cute, but...

Author: Jennifer Broekman
Posted: January 20, 2008 at 2:26PM
Source: The Physics Front collection

It's very difficult to create a smooth position-time graph, so the acceleration-time graph is wild. Consequently, the acceleration vector becomes a distractor, rather than effectively illustrating what acceleration does.

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AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.

9. The Mathematical World

9B. Symbolic Relationships
  • 6-8: 9B/M3. Graphs can show a variety of possible relationships between two variables. As one variable increases uniformly, the other may do one of the following: increase or decrease steadily, increase or decrease faster and faster, get closer and closer to some limiting value, reach some intermediate maximum or minimum, alternately increase and decrease, increase or decrease in steps, or do something different from any of these.
  • 9-12: 9B/H1b. Sometimes the rate of change of something depends on how much there is of something else (as the rate of change of speed is proportional to the amount of force acting).
  • 9-12: 9B/H4. Tables, graphs, and symbols are alternative ways of representing data and relationships that can be translated from one to another.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.4 Model with mathematics.

Expressions and Equations (6-8)

Represent and analyze quantitative relationships between dependent and independent variables. (6)
  • 6.EE.9 Use variables to represent two quantities in a real-world problem that change in relationship to one another; write an equation to express one quantity, thought of as the dependent variable, in terms of the other quantity, thought of as the independent variable. Analyze the relationship between the dependent and independent variables using graphs and tables, and relate these to the equation.

Functions (8)

Define, evaluate, and compare functions. (8)
  • 8.F.1 Understand that a function is a rule that assigns to each input exactly one output. The graph of a function is the set of ordered pairs consisting of an input and the corresponding output.
  • 8.F.2 Compare properties of two functions each represented in a different way (algebraically, graphically, numerically in tables, or by verbal descriptions).
  • 8.F.3 Interpret the equation y = mx + b as defining a linear function, whose graph is a straight line; give examples of functions that are not linear.
Use functions to model relationships between quantities. (8)
  • 8.F.4 Construct a function to model a linear relationship between two quantities. Determine the rate of change and initial value of the function from a description of a relationship or from two (x, y) values, including reading these from a table or from a graph. Interpret the rate of change and initial value of a linear function in terms of the situation it models, and in terms of its graph or a table of values.
  • 8.F.5 Describe qualitatively the functional relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph (e.g., where the function is increasing or decreasing, linear or nonlinear). Sketch a graph that exhibits the qualitative features of a function that has been described verbally.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models? (9-12)
  • F-LE.5 Interpret the parameters in a linear or exponential function in terms of a context.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2001), WWW Document, (
PhET Simulation: The Moving Man, (Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2001), <>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: The Moving Man. (2005, March 22). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from Physics Education Technology Project:
Chicago Format
Physics Education Technology Project. PhET Simulation: The Moving Man. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, March 22, 2005. (accessed 27 June 2017).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: The Moving Man. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, 2001. 22 Mar. 2005. 27 June 2017 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: The Moving Man}, Publisher = {Physics Education Technology Project}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {27 June 2017}, Month = {March 22, 2005}, Year = {2001} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: The Moving Man
%D March 22, 2005
%I Physics Education Technology Project
%C Boulder
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D March 22, 2005
%T PhET Simulation: The Moving Man
%I Physics Education Technology Project
%V 2017
%N 27 June 2017
%8 March 22, 2005
%9 application/java

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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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PhET Simulation: The Moving Man:

Covers the Same Topic As Science House: Motion and Graphing

The Motion and Graphing activity provides a laboratory experience similar to The Moving Man virtual experiments.

relation by Bruce Mason
Covers the Same Topic As Tracker Video Analysis

The Tracker Video Analysis program allows students to analyze videos of motion experiments.

relation by Bruce Mason
Is Supplemented By Student Difficulties in Physics Information Center

An annotated list of documented student misconceptions related to the topics of motion and forces.  Contains probative questions to elicit and address the misconceptions.

relation by Caroline Hall
Covers the Same Topic As Kinematics Graph Interpretation Project

The "TUG-K" project has studied student understanding of kinematics. Assessments are available.

relation by Bruce Mason

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