Acceleration
Forces and Motion

Accumulations over time

Physics Narrative for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

A repeated pattern

A central idea here, repeated often, is that accumulations over time lead to changes. To understand the structure of these changes clearly we need to be precise, and to use vectors.

The three central ideas in this episode are acceleration (a), velocity (v), position (s).

Time is not used; instead we suggest clock time, duration and interval.

As you shift from vector to scalar descriptions, so you'll need to be careful that you don't drop or obscure essential elements. So we've suggested a restricted role for (average) speed, distance and duration.

Similarly, we've suggested that a recognition that all movement is relative movement is the key to avoiding ambiguity.

However, some things (for example, mass, force and acceleration) don't change as you switch point of view by adopting a new velocity – they're invariant – which provides a sound lead in to relativistic thinking, from Galileo to Einstein. Charlie, Alice and Bob have always agreed about force, acceleration and mass. That's because they've been helping you explore a Newtonian world. (In an Einsteinian world, they'd not even agree about durations and displacements, but that's for later study.)

Acceleration
appears in the relation F=ma a=dv/dt a=-(w^2)x
is used in analyses relating to Terminal Velocity
can be represented by Motion Graphs
IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

New videos on forces

Our first collection of videos gives teachers and coaches of physics a preview of the training we offer ahead of this term's live support sessions.

Find out more