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written by Tom Henderson
This mobile-friendly simulation offers a highly interactive way for learners to explore how graphs of position vs. time or velocity vs. time are related to real-world motion. In each exercise, the simulation provides a motion graph. The student's task is to build a ramp with the correct height and incline angles so the motion of the rolling ball matches the target graph. Adjustments can be made until the ramp configuration is an accurate match. Built-in "star" rewards create a game-like environment with incentives to keep going.
Editor's Note: This activity could be useful as a formative assessment. It can be adapted for a variety of learning levels from conceptual physics through AP Physics courses. It's fun, but challenging.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in One Dimension
= Position & Displacement
= Velocity
Education Foundations
- Cognition
= Cognition Development
Education Practices
- Active Learning
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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Free access
© 2018 Tom Henderson
Content in The Physics Classroom is restricted to online usage through a live internet connection. Its copyright prohibits use of text, images, or files to other storage devices or external web pages.
motion graph, p/t graph, position graph, v/t graph, velocity graph
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created September 24, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
September 24, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 31, 2018

Next Generation Science Standards

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-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)
    • Create a computational model or simulation of a phenomenon, designed device, process, or system. (9-12)

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

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.?
Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models? (9-12)
  • F-LE.1.b Recognize situations in which one quantity changes at a constant rate per unit interval relative to another.
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Record Link
AIP Format
T. Henderson, (2018), WWW Document, (https://www.physicsclassroom.com/Physics-Interactives/1-D-Kinematics/Graphs-and-Ramps).
T. Henderson, Physics Classroom: Graphs and Ramps Interactive, (2018), <https://www.physicsclassroom.com/Physics-Interactives/1-D-Kinematics/Graphs-and-Ramps>.
APA Format
Henderson, T. (2018, July 31). Physics Classroom: Graphs and Ramps Interactive. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://www.physicsclassroom.com/Physics-Interactives/1-D-Kinematics/Graphs-and-Ramps
Chicago Format
Henderson, Tom. Physics Classroom: Graphs and Ramps Interactive. July 31, 2018. https://www.physicsclassroom.com/Physics-Interactives/1-D-Kinematics/Graphs-and-Ramps (accessed 6 December 2021).
MLA Format
Henderson, Tom. Physics Classroom: Graphs and Ramps Interactive. 2018. 31 July 2018. 6 Dec. 2021 <https://www.physicsclassroom.com/Physics-Interactives/1-D-Kinematics/Graphs-and-Ramps>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Tom Henderson", Title = {Physics Classroom: Graphs and Ramps Interactive}, Volume = {2021}, Number = {6 December 2021}, Month = {July 31, 2018}, Year = {2018} }
Refer Export Format

%A Tom Henderson %T Physics Classroom: Graphs and Ramps Interactive %D July 31, 2018 %U https://www.physicsclassroom.com/Physics-Interactives/1-D-Kinematics/Graphs-and-Ramps %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Henderson, Tom %D July 31, 2018 %T Physics Classroom: Graphs and Ramps Interactive %V 2021 %N 6 December 2021 %8 July 31, 2018 %9 text/html %U https://www.physicsclassroom.com/Physics-Interactives/1-D-Kinematics/Graphs-and-Ramps

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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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Physics Classroom: Graphs and Ramps Interactive:

Simulates The Physics Classroom: Describing Motion with Position vs. Time Graphs

A 3-part tutorial that examines the relationship between an object's motion and the shape of its p/t graph.

relation by Caroline Hall
Simulates The Physics Classroom: The Meaning of Shape for a v-t Graph

A tutorial that features graphs and animations to explore the relationship between an object's motion and its Velocity vs. Time graph.

relation by Caroline Hall

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