This simulation for grades 6-12 demonstrates how vectors are used to represent velocity. As users drive a virtual car on a flat surface, vectors change in response to the changes in speed and direction. A graph of speed vs. time is displayed in real-time as the car is maneuvered. Background information and discussion questions are also provided.

PBS Learning Media is a comprehensive collection of 30,000+ digital resources available free to K-12 educators worldwide. Its aim is to assemble the best of public media and connect these resources with research-based, classroom-ready lessons aligned to national curriculum standards.

The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)

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 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. (6-8)

Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. (6-8)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)

Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)

Develop and use a model to describe phenomena. (6-8)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

2. The Nature of Mathematics

2B. Mathematics, Science, and Technology

9-12: 2B/H3. Mathematics provides a precise language to describe objects and events and the relationships among them. In addition, mathematics provides tools for solving problems, analyzing data, and making logical arguments.

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/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models

6-8: 11B/M2. Mathematical models can be displayed on a computer and then modified to see what happens.

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).

PBS Learning Media: Virtual Car-Velocity and Acceleration. (2008, March 17). Retrieved October 31, 2020, from WGBH Educational Foundation: https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.mfw.accel/virtual-car-velocity-and-acceleration/

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