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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?
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.
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. To supplement the simulation, we recommend the Physics Classroom tutorial "Vectors and Direction" and the teacher-created lesson, "Vectors Phet Lab" -- see links in Related Materials.
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
11. Common Themes
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments
High School — Number and Quantity (9-12)
Vector and Matrix Quantities (9-12)
The Physics Classroom: Vectors and Direction (Author: Tom Henderson)
As instructors, we may forget that certain representations (like vector arrows) seem like a foreign language to beginning students. This thoughtfully-crafted tutorial introduces vector diagrams in kid-friendly language and extends the learning to interactive practice problems with answers provided.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion
Unit Title: Vectors
This very simple simulation can help beginners understand what vector arrows represent. It was designed by the PhET team to target specific areas of difficulty in student understanding of vectors. Learners can move a ball with the mouse or let the simulation control the ball in four modes of motion (two types of linear, simple harmonic, and circular). Two vectors are displayed -- one green and one blue. Which color represents velocity and which acceleration?Link to Unit:
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PhET Simulation: Motion in 2D:
Is Supplemented By The Physics Classroom: Vectors - Fundamentals and Operations
A self-directed tutorial for deeper exploration of vector direction, with problem sets and related animation.relation by Caroline Hall
Is Required By PhET Teacher Activities: Vectors Simulations Lab
An editor-recommended virtual lab, authored by a high school teacher specifically for use with the Motion in 2D simulation.relation by Caroline Hall
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Is Supplemented By