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Physical Science: Middle School9 chapters | 61 lessons

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Lesson Transcript

Instructor:
*David Wood*

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you should be able to explain what position and speed are. You should also be able to plot position vs. time and speed vs. time graphs. A short quiz will follow.

**Position** is your current location in space, measured relative to some reference point. Maybe your position is 3 miles west of the lighthouse or 2 miles from the center of Chicago.

**Distance** is the amount of space between two things or people, measured as a continuous line. We measure distance in units like miles, kilometers, meters, centimeters, inches and yards. Distance traveled is related to your change in position, but it isn't quite the same thing.

Your position is where you are, at a particular moment, and if your position changes by 5 meters, then you have traveled a distance of at least 5 meters. But they're still not the same thing. Maybe while you were changing position by 5 meters, you took the long, scenic route. You still ended up 5 meters from where you started, but you traveled a greater distance.

If you know the time it took you to travel a distance, or the time it took you to change position, you can figure out your speed. **Speed** is the rate at which your position changes, measured in meters per second, or miles per hour, or similar. Your speed tells you how many meters you travel each second, or how many miles you travel each hour. A speed of 50 miles per hour means that your distance is changing at a rate that would mean you traveled 50 miles every hour.

We can create graphs of position and speed, if we know how they changed over time.

A **position vs. time graph** is a graph with position on the vertical (*y*) axis and time on the horizontal (*x*) axis. It tells you how the position of an object changed over a period of time. For example, in Graph 1 a bicyclist cycles from the origin to a position of 4 meters away from the origin, stays where she is for a little while, and then cycles back to her starting position again.

A **speed vs. time graph** is a graph with speed on the vertical (*y*) axis and time on the horizontal (*x*) axis. It tells you how the speed of an object changed over a period of time. For example, Graph 2 is the speed vs. time graph of the bicyclist. She moved at one speed at first, stopped for a while, and then went back towards the origin at a slower speed.

Now it's time to practice making some position vs. time and speed vs. time graphs.

Practice Problem 1: A car travels 30 miles in 1 hour, stops in a car park for 1 hour, and then travels 90 miles in 2 hours. Plot a position vs. time graph of the motion.

Get some graph paper, a ruler and a pencil, and have a go at drawing the graph.

If you've already had a go at plotting the graph, you'll want to see the answer. Your graph should look like Graph 3, below. It slopes up as the car travels 30 miles in the first hour, goes flat as the car stays at the same position for the next hour, and then the car travels even further (another 90 miles) for the last 2 hours.

Practice Problem 2: A woman runs at 5 miles per hour for 30 minutes, and then slows to 2 miles per hour for another 30 minutes, before gradually coming to a stop in 10 minutes. Draw a speed vs. time graph of her motion.

Get some graph paper, a ruler and a pencil, and have a go at drawing the graph.

If you've already had a go at plotting the graph, you'll want to see the answer. Your final graph should look like Graph 4, below. It starts at 5 miles per hour for 30 minutes, jumps straight to 2 miles per hour for the next 30 minutes, and then the last 10 minutes she gradually slows to a stop.

**Position** is your current location in space, measured relative to some reference point. **Distance** is the amount of space between two things or people, measured as a continuous line. We measure both distance and position in units like miles, kilometers, meters, centimeters, inches and yards. Distance traveled is related to your change in position, but it isn't quite the same thing.

If you know the time it took to travel a distance or to change position, you can figure out your speed. **Speed** is the rate at which your position changes, measured in meters per second, or miles per hour, or similar. Your speed tells you how many meters you travel each second, or how many miles you travel each hour. A speed of 50 miles per hour means that your distance is changing at a rate that would mean you traveled 50 miles every hour.

We can create graphs of position and speed, if we know how they changed over time. A **position vs. time graph** is a graph with position on the vertical (*y*) axis and time on the horizontal (*x*) axis. It tells you how the position of an object changed over a period of time. A **speed vs. time graph** is a graph with speed on the vertical (*y*) axis and time on the horizontal (*x*) axis. It tells you how the speed of an object changed over a period of time.

After this lesson, you should be able to:

- Define position and distance
- Differentiate between distance traveled and change in position
- Recall how to calculate speed
- Explain how to create a position vs. time graph and a speed vs. time graph and what each graph describes

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Physical Science: Middle School9 chapters | 61 lessons

- What is Position in Physics? - Definition & Examples 4:42
- Speed and Velocity: Concepts and Formulas 6:44
- Distance, Time & Average Speed: Practice Problems 4:54
- Graphing Position & Speed vs Time: Practice Problems 5:05
- Objects with Two or More Forces: Finding the Total Force Result 4:58
- Newton's First Law of Motion: Examples of the Effect of Force on Motion 8:25
- Newton's Second Law of Motion: The Relationship Between Force and Acceleration 8:04
- Newton's Third Law of Motion: Examples of the Relationship Between Two Forces 4:24
- Forces: Balanced and Unbalanced 5:50
- Newton's Laws and Weight, Mass & Gravity 8:14
- Gravity in the Solar System: Shaping Planets & Stars 4:58
- Go to Motion & Forces

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