This set of tutorials and drills covers motion in one dimension as shown by Motion Diagrams, the position of an object at equal time intervals. Constant acceleration (and constant velocity) problems are considered. Students, through self-paced drills, can explore the concepts of displacement, average velocity, and instantaneous velocity. They also can relate motion with position and velocity graphs, x(t) and v(t).

This is one of the "Physics Illuminations", collections of interactive tutorials and drills on subjects in introductory physics. Included with the 1D Kinematics Illuminations are a set of self-tests on the material presented.

A menu subdivides the content as follows:

Finding Average Velocity: Obtaining velocity from displacement measurements.

Finding the Instantaneous Velocity: Similar to 1.

From a Position Graph: Obtain a motion diagram from a Position Graph.

From a Velocity Graph: similar to part 3.

Changing Displacements: Prediction of motion.

Type of Material:

Self-paced instruction using Java

Recommended Uses:

Drill and Practice, Tutorial

Technical Requirements:

Java Applet, none noted.

Identify Major Learning Goals:

Conceptual understanding of displacements and velocities through pictures of motion and quantitative description of motion through interactive quizzes.

Target Student Population:

Lower level undergrad, and advanced high school

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

These exercises are meant to be used as part of an introductory mechanics course. Students need to understand the basic definitions of displacement, velocity, and acceleration, and, perhaps, have a brief introduction to 1D constant acceleration problems.

Content Quality

Rating:

Strengths:

These applets present the concepts of 1D motion through a natural description, the position of an object at different times. The kinematic quantities of position, displacement, and velocity are related conceptually with almost no equations. This is done using virtual "measurements" such as might be done in a hands-on lab. Motion diagrams generated by animations are far superior to similar diagrams displayed in static texts.

The drills where students are required to interpret graphs of x(t) or v(t) are excellent, and require students to have an understanding of the motion of the object. The final drill, where students must predict the motion from the initial three positions of the object is another significant test of understanding.

Concerns:

In section (1), a fair bit of accuracy is required. Students will need to become accustomed to the expected measurement accuracy.

In section (2), it may not be immediately obvious to students why the method described for getting the instanteous velocity works. Students might wish to see this derived, or be required to prove this for themselves.

In sections (3 and 4), dragging the mouse displays a ruler, but releasing the mouse button is taken as the students answer, unlike part 1. This is explained in the help, but students should be made aware of this.

In section (5), students should be encouraged to understand what they are doing, and not just "plug and chug" using the formula given.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating:

Strengths:

These applets are highly interactive, with students making measurements and predictions, and receiving immediate feedback regarding their answers. Both conceptual understanding and the ability to derive quantitative results are tested and strengthened by these drills.

Students will make mistakes on these drills,
whether it be with units, directions, or more fundamental concepts. This material will encourage them to continue practicing until they understand and are comfortable with the material.

Concerns:

The drill problems can repeat themselves. Having a few more different examples might be useful.

This will not replace a textbook. The physical quantities (displacement, velocity, etc.) are not sufficiently defined for this material to stand on its own.

Active learning will be harder to encourage without automatic grading and due date enforcement. There will also need to be other aspects of the course that use the lessons learned with this tool to reinforce the lessons' importance and to make students remain attentive while using the tool.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating:

Strengths:

The applets are simple to use and have very useful online help available. The navigation through the material is generally very simple, with necessary and helpful information displayed. The text is very readable, concepts are well defined and accentuated with color and bolding, and the meanings of the diagrams and graphs are obvious. The graphics, though very simple, are effective.

Concerns:

Students will need to be directed back to the table of contents to go from one section of this material to another.

The "measuring tape" is a nice idea, but proper placement over the motion diagram can be somewhat difficult initially.

In section (5), Motion Diagrams from Changing Displacements, users might be somewhat confused because they should not click on the given first three position points to make measurements as is done in the earlier exercises.

Other Issues and Comments:

This material is meant to help students understand some of the most basic concepts in mechanics through interaction and continuing exposure. It is part of a research project,
supported in part by the NSF, to understand the usefulness of such drill. Instructors using this material are encouraged to participate in this project.

Creative Commons:

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