published by
the Physics Education Technology Project
written by
Steve Reeves

This lesson plan was developed specifically for use with the PhET simulation "The Moving Man". It is intended to help beginning students differentiate velocity vs. time graphs from position vs. time graphs, and also to promote understanding of multiple frames of reference in analyzing an object's motion. Only basic graphing skills are required of the student. It was created by a high school teacher under the sponsorship of the PhET project.

SEE RELATED ITEMS BELOW for a link to "The Moving Man" simulation, which must be running to complete the activity.

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

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

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.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models

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

Next Generation Science Standards

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions (HS-PS2)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)

Analyze data to support the claim that Newton's second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration. (HS-PS2-1)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)

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)

All positions of objects and the directions of forces and motions must be described in an arbitrarily chosen reference frame and arbitrarily chosen units of size. In order to share information with other people, these choices must also be shared. (6-8)

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Functions (8)

Use functions to model relationships between quantities. (8)

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)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)

F-IF.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship.^{?}

F-IF.5 Relate the domain of a function to its graph and, where applicable, to the quantitative relationship it describes.^{?}

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

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

An excellent lesson plan developed specifically to accompany the PhET simulation "The Moving Man". Students with little prior knowledge of graph interpretation will gain understanding of velocity vs. time graphs and how they differ from position vs. time. Adaptable for both middle school and high school.

S. Reeves, PhET Teacher Activities: Moving Man - Velocity vs. Time Graphs, (Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2005), <http://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/2833>.

Reeves, S. (2008, April 30). PhET Teacher Activities: Moving Man - Velocity vs. Time Graphs. Retrieved February 1, 2015, from Physics Education Technology Project: http://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/2833

Reeves, Steve. PhET Teacher Activities: Moving Man - Velocity vs. Time Graphs. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, April 30, 2008. http://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/2833 (accessed 1 February 2015).

%0 Electronic Source %A Reeves, Steve %D April 30, 2008 %T PhET Teacher Activities: Moving Man - Velocity vs. Time Graphs %I Physics Education Technology Project %V 2015 %N 1 February 2015 %8 April 30, 2008 %9 text/html %U http://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/2833

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