published by
the Physics Education Technology Project

Available Languages: English, Spanish

This is an interactive simulation created to help beginners differentiate velocity and acceleration vectors. The user can move a ball with the mouse or let the simulation move the ball in four modes of motion (two types of linear, simple harmonic, and circular). Two vectors are displayed -- one green and one blue. As the motion of the ball changes, the vectors also change. Which color represents velocity and which acceleration?

Editor's Note: This simulation was designed with improvements based on research of student interaction with the PhET resource "Ladybug Revolution". The authors added two new features for the beginning learner: linear acceleration and harmonic motion.

This item is part of a larger and growing collection of resources developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET), each designed to implement principles of physics education research.

Please note that this resource requires
Java Applet Plug-in.

3-5: 4F/E1a. Changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces.

6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models

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

Next Generation Science Standards

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Patterns (K-12)

Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data. (6-8)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)

Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)

Analyze data using computational models in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims. (9-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)

Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)

Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)

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 — Number and Quantity (9-12)

Vector and Matrix Quantities (9-12)

N-VM.1 (+) Recognize vector quantities as having both magnitude and direction. Represent vector quantities by directed line segments, and use appropriate symbols for vectors and their magnitudes (e.g., v, |v|, ||v||, v).

PhET Simulation: Motion in 2D. (2007, November 15). Retrieved July 28, 2015, from Physics Education Technology Project: http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/motion-2d

%0 Electronic Source %D November 15, 2007 %T PhET Simulation: Motion in 2D %I Physics Education Technology Project %V 2015 %N 28 July 2015 %8 November 15, 2007 %9 application/java %U http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/motion-2d

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