Many students think that, if an object has a speed of zero (even instantaneously), it has no acceleration

Forces and Motion


Diagnostic Resources

  • Acceleration and deceleration (11 - 14)

    Source - SPT/ Mo03PN06   see also  Mo03TL04

    Making clear the forces acting on an object - throwing a ball means the 'driving' force is only acting when the ball is in your hand.  After that the forces are air resistance and gravity.  These will affect the velocity and the acceleration.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Twigger, D.; Byard, M.; Driver, R.; Draper, S.; Hartley, R.; Hennessy, S.; Mohamed, R.; O'Mally, C.; O'Shea, T. and Scanlon, E. () The conception of force and motion of students aged between 10 and 15 years: an interview study designed to guide instruction. International Journal of Science Education, 16 (2),


    By recording and analysing interviews with 36 students aged between 10 and 15 years, this study aimed to identify common prior conceptions on the topic of horizontal and vertical motion and to explore the extent to which these conceptions were age dependent. Of the 36 students, 16 were girls and 20 were boys. The study took place in the UK.
    Review sheet

2023 IOP Awards

Teachers of Physics Awards

Recognising and celebrating outstanding contributions to the field of physics education.

Learn more