Forces and Motion

Constant - use of this word in your classroom

Teaching Guidance for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

Restrict the word constant to a single meaning

Teacher Tip: Take care how you use words, so that you don't say things that a moment's thought would reveal to be false.

For example, the owners of this gate meant regular or perhaps frequent.

It turns out that they certainly did not mean constant, unless the photograph lies. In the same way, we'd suggest that you don't use steady, or other near synonyms, to mean constant.

We'd suggest that you restrict the use of the word constant to mean having the same value at all times, and don't use synonyms for the word. So:

Teacher: The speed is constant.

Teacher: The acceleration is constant.

But not:

Teacher: The speed was steady.

Teacher: It's a steady force.

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
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