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Interpreting Motion Graphs

Motion A change in position measured by distance and time.

Speed The rate at which an object moves.

Velocity The speed and direction of a moving object.

Acceleration The rate, speed, or direction changes.

Reference Point A place or object used for comparison to determine if something is in motion. So…a fly is sitting on the shoulder of a man sitting in a car. The car is traveling at 60 mph. Is the fly in motion?

Key Points A straight line shows constant speed. A curved line shows average speed. A horizontal line shows no motion. Time is on the x-axis, distance (OR SPEED) is on the y-axis. The steeper the graph, the faster the motion.

Distance-Time Graphs Time is always on the x-axis. Distance is always on the y-axis.

Speed-Time Graphs Time is always on the x-axis. Speed is always on the y-axis. Speed

Distance-Time: NO MOTION Time is increasing, but distance does NOT change. It is NOT MOVING…NO MOTION…AT REST.

Speed-Time: CONSTANT SPEED Time is increasing, but speed does NOT change. It is moving at a constant speed. Speed

Distant-Time: CONSTANT SPEED Time and distance are INCREASING at a constant rate. This graph shows CONSTANT SPEED.

Speed-Time: CONSTANT SPEED Time and speed are INCREASING at a constant rate. This graph shows CONSTANT SPEED. Speed

Distance-Time: CONSTANT SPEED This graph shows a change in direction (meaning the object is headed back to the starting point). This graph also shows CONSTANT SPEED.

Speed-Time: CONSTANT SPEED This graph shows time is INCREASING while speed is DECREASING at a constant rate. This graph also shows CONSTANT SPEED. Speed

Distance-Time: FASTER SPEED A steeper line shows greater distance traveled in a given time. The STEEPER THE LINE, the HIGHER THE SPEED.

Speed-Time: FASTER SPEED A steeper line shows speed increasing in shorter amount of time. The STEEPER THE LINE, the HIGHER THE SPEED. Speed

Distance-Time: ACCELERATION In a given time, the distance the object moves is getting larger, it is ACCELERATING. The curve upward shows an INCREASE in SPEED.

Speed-Time: ACCELERATION In a given time, the speed at which the object is travelling is increasing, it is ACCELERATING. The curve upward shows an INCREASE in SPEED. Speed Initially, the object is traveling at a slower speed Then, the speed increases rapidly

Distance-Time: DECELERATION This graph is the same as above, but the curve downward shows DECELERATION or a DECREASE IN SPEED.

Speed-Time: DECELERATION In a given time, the speed at which the object is travelling is decreasing, it is DECELERATING. The curve downward shows a DECREASE IN SPEED. Speed The speed rapidly declines and the object slows down Initially, the object is traveling at a very fast speed.

Putting it all together

Speed constant speed decreasing speed at a constant rate increasing speed at a constant rate

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