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Activity Overview


Distance and displacement are slightly different from each other. Distance is a scalar quantity that describes how much ground an object has covered. Displacement is a vector quantity that describes how far an object is from its starting position. A displacement-time graph normally puts displacement on the y-axis and time on the x-axis. Using S.I. units, displacement is measured in meters and time is measured in seconds.

In this activity, students will label displacement-time graphs and provide example scenarios. Students often get these confused with velocity-time graphs, so this activity will serve as both a way to introduce displacement-time graphs and serve as a visual reference for later!


Interpreting the Displacement-Time Graph

SectionDescriptionExample
AThe object is moving at a constant speed.Sandy is a park ranger. She is patrolling the park at a constant speed in her vehicle.
BThe object is stationary.She sees a goose in her way and stops to let it pass.
CThe object moving at a constant speed in the same direction as section A, but not as quickly.She continues again, but this time more slowly in case there are other animals.
DThe object is moving at a constant speed (more quickly than A and C), but in the opposite direction. There was another animal, but not a goose! She quickly turns her vehicle around to go back to the ranger station at a high speed.

As an extension, give your students a description of a journey and then have them create the graph themselves. This activity would also work if you got your students to label a velocity-time graph.


Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group



Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Label and interpret a distance time graph. Provide an example scenario to accompany it.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Label the axes, making sure you include units.
  3. Label each color section of the graph and explain what is happening to the object in the description box.
  4. Come up with a narrative scenario to match the relative velocities and direction of travel.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.


Rubric

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)



Labeled Motion Graph
Label the axis and then label each section of the graph with information about the relative speed and direction of travel.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Axis
Both the X and Y axis are correctly labeled.
The X or the Y axis is correctly labeled.
Neither of the axis labels are correct.
Labels
All four sections of the graph are correctly labeled with information about the relative speed and direction of travel.
At least three out of the four sections of the graph have been correctly labeled with information about the relative speed and direction of travel.
At least two of the four sections of the graph have been correctly labeled with information about the relative speed and direction of travel.
Narrative
Each section of the motion graph has a clear and correct explanation.
Most sections of the motion graph have a correct explanation but they are not always clear and sometimes muddled.
Few sections of the motion graph have clear and correct explanations.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.




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