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written by Glenn Elert
This tutorial explains how to read, construct, and interpret basic kinematic graphs.  Animated examples are accompanied by detailed discussion of how to understand the patterns produced by Position vs. Time, Velocity vs. Time, and Acceleration vs. Time graphs. The resource includes supplementary practice exercises, worksheets, and related problems for student exploration.

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Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in One Dimension
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Textbook
= Tutorial
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- New teachers
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© 1998 Glenn Elert
Additional information is available.
acceleration, acceleration vs. time graph, average acceleration, displacement, graphing motion, instantaneous acceleration, kinematics, motion graphs, position vs. time graph, velocity, velocity vs. time graph
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 23, 2006 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
January 9, 2014 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 27, 2007
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

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/H4. Tables, graphs, and symbols are alternative ways of representing data and relationships that can be translated from one to another.

Next Generation Science Standards

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Patterns (K-12)
  • Graphs and charts can be used to identify patterns in data. (6-8)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)
  • Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)
    • Use mathematical representations of phenomena to describe explanations. (9-12)

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)
  • F-IF.5 Relate the domain of a function to its graph and, where applicable, to the quantitative relationship it describes.?
  • F-IF.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.
  • F-IF.7.a Graph linear and quadratic functions and show intercepts, maxima, and minima.
  • F-IF.7.e Graph exponential and logarithmic functions, showing intercepts and end behavior, and trigonometric functions, showing period, midline, and amplitude.
Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models? (9-12)
  • F-LE.1.a Prove that linear functions grow by equal differences over equal intervals, and that exponential functions grow by equal factors over equal intervals.
  • F-LE.3 Observe using graphs and tables that a quantity increasing exponentially eventually exceeds a quantity increasing linearly, quadratically, or (more generally) as a polynomial function.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11—CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion
Unit Title: Graphing

A very well-organized tutorial on how to construct and interpret three basic kinematic graphs:  P/T, V/T and A/T.  It includes animated examples, links to five worksheets, and related problems for student exploration.

Link to Unit:
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AIP Format
G. Elert, (1998), WWW Document, (http://physics.info/motion-graphs/).
G. Elert, The Physics Hypertextbook: Graphs of Motion, (1998), <http://physics.info/motion-graphs/>.
APA Format
Elert, G. (2007, June 27). The Physics Hypertextbook: Graphs of Motion. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from http://physics.info/motion-graphs/
Chicago Format
Elert, Glenn. The Physics Hypertextbook: Graphs of Motion. June 27, 2007. http://physics.info/motion-graphs/ (accessed 29 June 2017).
MLA Format
Elert, Glenn. The Physics Hypertextbook: Graphs of Motion. 1998. 27 June 2007. 29 June 2017 <http://physics.info/motion-graphs/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Glenn Elert", Title = {The Physics Hypertextbook: Graphs of Motion}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {29 June 2017}, Month = {June 27, 2007}, Year = {1998} }
Refer Export Format

%A Glenn Elert
%T The Physics Hypertextbook: Graphs of Motion
%D June 27, 2007
%U http://physics.info/motion-graphs/
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Elert, Glenn
%D June 27, 2007
%T The Physics Hypertextbook: Graphs of Motion
%V 2017
%N 29 June 2017
%8 June 27, 2007
%9 text/html
%U http://physics.info/motion-graphs/

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