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Notes for Year 10 Physics

Notes for Year 10 Physics

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Speed: Speed is the distance travelled compared with the time it takes to travel that distance.

Distance: is the space through which an object travels. In the diagram, for example, the distance

between point A and point B is 100 metres (m). Speed, therefore, measures how quickly an object

moves from one point to another.

Instantaneous speed: is the speed at which an object is travelling at a certain point in time. This is

the type of speed that is measured by a speedometer or a radar gun. Speed rarely remains constant

over longer periods of time.

Average speed: Average speed is the overall speed of an object between two points. Your

instantaneous speed on some parts of the drive to school might be around 50 kilometres per hour

(km/h), for example, but your average speed would be lower because you would have to stop at traffic

lights, slow down to turn, and so forth.

Average speed can be expressed in the following equation:

Let's say a person is able to walk 100m in 50 seconds. 100 divided by 50 is 2, so the person's

average speed would be 2 metres per second (m/s). Speed is always measured in a unit of distance

divided by a unit of time. Some examples are metres per second (m/s), kilometres per hour (km/h)

and miles per hour (mph). In physics, m/s is the most commonly used unit of speed.

Average speed and instantaneous speed are often different, but if smaller units of measurement are

used in the equation, a speed closer to the instantaneous speed can be found. From our example, if

we were able to measure how quickly the person walked 10m or 1m, we would have a number closer

to the person's instantaneous speed.

Distance-time graphs

In order to better understand speed, it can be helpful to look at a distance-time graph. A distance-

time graph plots distance on the vertical (y) axis and time on the horizontal (x) axis.

See Image 3

In this diagram, line A (Green Line) represents an object travelling at a slow, constant speed. Line B

(Red Line) represents an object travelling at a quicker speed, while line C (Blue Line) represents an

object travelling at a constant speed, then stopping.

The speed of an object can be determined from a distance-time graph by finding theslope of the

graph. This is done by picking two points on the graph and drawing a straight line down from the

higher point and a straight line to the right from the lower point. Determine the lengths of these lines.

The slope, and therefore the speed of the object, is the length of the vertical line (called the rise)

divided by the length of the horizontal line (called the run).

Acceleration and Deceleration

Acceleration is another way to describe movement. It is the way that an object's velocity changes

over time. Like velocity and displacement, acceleration is concerned with both the direction and time

the travel takes.

When an object goes from being at rest to being in motion, it accelerates to a certain speed. If the

object stays at constant speed, it is not accelerating. If the object changes direction, it is also

accelerating, only in a different direction. If an object slows down or stops, it is accelerating. This type

of acceleration is referred to asnegative acceleration or deceleration. It is called negative

acceleration because it is only negative compared to the direction of the original motion. If

acceleration in the same direction were applied to a stationary object, the object would start moving in

the other direction.

See Image 1

Acceleration is determined using the following formula:

Acceleration is generally measured in metres per second per second or m/s

2

.

Like speed and velocity, there can be instantaneous and average acceleration. An object could speed

up and slow down many times over a period of time, but its average acceleration would not show that.

Let's say we have a person travelling to school. Over that time, she has to stop at road crossings and

has to run to avoid being late. Her average acceleration for the first half of her trip would be an

average of all those accelerations, negative and positive.

See Image 2

Also like speed, if average velocity is measured over smaller units of time, a magnitude closer to the

instantaneous acceleration can be determined. If we were to only measure our school traveller's

acceleration over one block, for example, or half a block, we would get a number much closer to her

instantaneous acceleration.

Velocity-time and speed-time graphs

A velocity-time graph is a graph that shows how the velocity of an object changes over time. It can

be useful in calculating the acceleration of an object.

See Image 3

In this graph, an object positively accelerates, then stays at a constant speed. Acceleration can be

found by determining the slope of the line. The distance travelled can be determined by finding the

area of the space beneath the line.

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