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written by Glenn Elert
This online tutorial offers support in understanding acceleration from both a conceptual and a quantitative framework. It features a discussion of key concepts, practice problems with answers provided, and a list of links to related activities for high school students. This resource is part of an online textbook in introductory physics.
Editor's Note: Don't miss the Resource links. They offer engaging ways to introduce acceleration in terms of real-life applications (for example, one link goes to the article, "Could A Seat Belt Have Saved Princess Diana?")
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in One Dimension
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Textbook
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- New teachers
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Free access
© 1998 Glenn Elert
Additional information is available.
acceleration, acceleration due to gravity, average acceleration, instantaneous acceleration, kinematics
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 19, 2006 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
January 13, 2014 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 18, 2006

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)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity (3-12)
  • Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth). (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-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 or computational representations of phenomena to describe explanations. (9-12)

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.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

High School — Algebra (9-12)

Seeing Structure in Expressions (9-12)
  • A-SSE.1.a Interpret parts of an expression, such as terms, factors, and coefficients.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)
  • F-IF.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.
  • F-IF.8.b Use the properties of exponents to interpret expressions for exponential functions.
Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models? (9-12)
  • F-LE.5 Interpret the parameters in a linear or exponential function in terms of a context.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Key Ideas and Details (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
Craft and Structure (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11—12 texts and topics.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9—10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion
Unit Title: Motion in One Dimension

This resource offers support in understanding the concept of acceleration as a rate of change. It includes example problems with solutions, homework problems, and a fun section that provides sample accelerations of selected events. Great content support for middle school teachers or solid tutorial for high school physics.

Link to Unit:
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
G. Elert, (1998), WWW Document, (https://physics.info/acceleration/).
G. Elert, The Physics Hypertextbook: Acceleration (1998), <https://physics.info/acceleration/>.
APA Format
Elert, G. (2006, July 18). The Physics Hypertextbook: Acceleration. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from https://physics.info/acceleration/
Chicago Format
Elert, Glenn. The Physics Hypertextbook: Acceleration. July 18, 2006. https://physics.info/acceleration/ (accessed 21 May 2024).
MLA Format
Elert, Glenn. The Physics Hypertextbook: Acceleration. 1998. 18 July 2006. 21 May 2024 <https://physics.info/acceleration/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Glenn Elert", Title = {The Physics Hypertextbook: Acceleration}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {21 May 2024}, Month = {July 18, 2006}, Year = {1998} }
Refer Export Format

%A Glenn Elert %T The Physics Hypertextbook: Acceleration %D July 18, 2006 %U https://physics.info/acceleration/ %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Elert, Glenn %D July 18, 2006 %T The Physics Hypertextbook: Acceleration %V 2024 %N 21 May 2024 %8 July 18, 2006 %9 text/html %U https://physics.info/acceleration/

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Citation Source Information

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

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