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

Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today