acceleration

defining acceleration

Acceleration is a measure of the change in velocity of a moving object. It measures the rate at which velocity changes. Velocity, in turn, is a measure of the speed and direction of motion, so a change in velocity may reflect a change in speed, a change in direction, or both. Both velocity and acceleration are vectors. A vector is any measurement that has both size and direction. People commonly think of acceleration as in increase in speed, but a decrease in speed is also acceleration. In this case, acceleration is negative and called deceleration. A change in direction without a change in speed is acceleration as well. Q: Can you think of an example of acceleration that doesnt involve a change in speed? A: Driving at a constant speed around a bend in a road is one example. Use your imagination to think of others.

examples of acceleration

You can see several examples of acceleration in the pictures from the Figure 1.1. In each example, velocity is changing but in different ways. For example, direction may be changing but not speed, or vice versa. Figure out what is moving and how its moving in each of the photos. Q: Describe how velocity is changing in each of the motions you identified from the Figure 1.1. A: You should describe how both direction and speed are changing. For example, the boy on the carousel is moving up and down and around in a circle, so his direction is constantly changing, but his speed changes only at the beginning and end of the ride. The skydiver is falling straight down toward the ground so her direction isnt changing, but her speed keeps increasing as she falls until she opens her parachute.

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feeling acceleration

If you are accelerating, you may be able to feel the change in velocity. This is true whether the change is in speed, direction, or both. You often feel acceleration when you ride in a car. As the car speeds up, you feel as though you are being pressed against the seat. When the car slows down, you feel like you are being pushed forward, especially if the change in speed is sudden. If the car changes direction and turns right, you feel as though you are being pushed to the left. With a left turn, you feel a push to the right. The next time you ride in a car, notice how it feels as the car accelerates in each of these ways.

instructional diagrams

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questions

acceleration always refers to a(n)

a) increase in speed.

b) change in speed.

c) change in direction.

-->  d) change in velocity.

acceleration is a vector.

-->  a. true

b. false

a change in direction without a change in speed is called velocity.

a. true

-->  b. false

acceleration can never be negative.

a. true

-->  b. false

diagram questions

No diagram questions associated with this lesson