Teacher Notes for 1-D Kinematics


Lesson Plans || Learning Outcomes and Activities || Teacher Notes || Labs


Unit Overview

For many Physics courses, the 1D Kinematics unit is the starting point of the year. The activities that have been selected for this unit will span approximately 16 days. The primary goal of the unit is to help students make strong connections between the various representations of motion - words, dot diagrams, vector diagrams, position-time graphs, velocity-time graphs, data tables, and equations. The hope is that you can show a student a dot diagram and they could associate it with the corresponding p-t or  v-t graph. Or you could show a student a p-t graph and they could describe the motion in words (with some details) and construct the corresponding v-t graph.

There are likely enough activities on our website to prolong this unit for 40 days. You will have to be a bit selective. You don't need to do it all. You may need more than 16 days; you don't need 40 days on the topic. The temptation will be to perseverate on kinematic graphs or kinematic equations. These are important. They will be used again. But there's a lot more to Physics than describing how objects move with equations and graphs. 


Minds On Physics 

We have suggested several Minds On Physics missions. These generally require more patience on student's part than Concept Builders. They include a Health bar that starts at 100% and drops downward with every missed question (it also rises a bit with each correct answer). If the Health bar drops to 0% before the Progress bar reaches 100%, students will have to start over. They will get more practice but the restart will wear upon their patience. With a Task Tracker subscription, you have the option to control the rate at which the Health bar decreases; lower the so-called Health penalty for the mission from 50% to 25% (or whatever you choose). But more importantly, prepare students for the mission, train them to rely upon their Think Sheets and class notes, and encourage them to use the Help and Hints button. The message to students should be that ...
If you are missing questions, then you are probably not understanding the material. Answering more questions wrong won't increase your understanding; it only increase your frustration. Instead, tap on the Help and Hints button (or read your textbook or pull out your corresponding Think Sheet or pull out your class notes) and take some time to improve your understanding. The small amount of time spent reading will save a considerable amount of time spent on missing questions and having to start over. The fastest way through a mission is to slow down, read, learn, and think about the meaning of the idea.

Once you are able to get student buy-in on Minds On Physics, you may find it to be one of the more impactful resources for student learning. But fully selling students on the program may take more than one unit.


Other Resources

There are a few resources that we did not list in our Lesson Plans or Learning Outcomes and Activities that you may find to be very helpful. These include:
  1. Kinematic Graphing Simulation
    This simulation animates the six basic types of motion and accompanies each by a dot diagram, a p-t graph, a v-t graph, and an a-t graph. The graphs offer the ability to view the slopes at any instant in time (for p-t and v-t graphs) and to view the area between the line and the axis for any time interval (for v-t graphs). Users can modify motion parameters and view the effect such changes have upon graph features. There is also a Two Stage Motion mode that allows users to view the graphs for more complex motions. Finally there is a Sandbox mode and two accompanying Concept Builders. Teachers may use the downloadable Student Activity Sheet.
  2. Graphs and Ramps Simulation
    Students must create a collection of ramps along which a ball will roll in such a matter than its motion matches a target p-t or v-t graph. There are several levels of difficulty and a star is rewarded for completion of each level. It does not include Task Tracker compatibility.
  3. Dots and Graphs Concept Builder
    Students analyze a dot diagram and match the motion that it describes to the appropriate position-time or velocity-time graph.​
  4. Words and Graphs Concept Builder
    Students identify the velocity-time graph that matches the verbal description given for an object’s motion.


Pace Tracer Activities

We have recommended two Pace Tracer activities from our Physics Interactives section. These are kinematic graphing labs. Students move in a manner to match a graph. There are multiple levels of difficulty and we keep track of progress - permanently via Task Tracker and temporarily via a display of stars on the main menu. The labs do not require expensive motion detectors or special software. It simply uses the camera on the device - phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, etc. It works in the browser without any app. All that is required is a printed ArUco marker taped on a wall or held by a student as he/she walks towards and away from the camera. This is a no-budget solution for schools without motion detectors. And schools with motion detectors have found this to be an engaging addition to their usual practices. Each of our Pace Tracer activities are accompanied by a Student Activity sheet. They can be used by students as they progress through the activity.

Student Activity Sheets: Pace Tracer 1 || Pace Tracer 2


Science Reasoning Center Activities

We have several 1D Kinematics activities at our Science Reasoning Center. These provide a slightly different approach than Concept Builders or Minds On Physics. They tend to emphasize less conceptual development and more scientific processing, data interpretation, experimental analysis, etc. They often make great follow-ups to labs and can sometimes be used as an introduction to a topic. For most topics, they are great accompaniments to an NGSS curriculum. Check out our Velocity-Time Graphs activity or our Stopping Distance activity as examples. If you have a Task Tracker subscription, visit the Teacher Resources section in order to quickly preview the activity and navigate through all the questions.


Teacher Presentation Pack

Our Teacher Presentation Pack is loaded with a collection of Slide Decks and animations for use in your classroom. Once downloaded, they are fully modifiable and customizable. They would allow you to quickly pull up a Slide for discussion in class or to show a quick animation. It may be a worthwhile investment, particularly if you are an early-career or cross-over Physics teacher.


Also Available ...

Physics teachers may find the following for-sale tools to be useful supplements to our Lesson Plan and Pacing Guide section:


  1. Task Tracker Subscription (annual purchase)
    A subscription allows teachers to set up classes, add students, customize online assignments, view student progress/scores, and export student scores. Task Tracker accounts allow your students to begin assignments in class or at school and to finish them at home. View our Seat and Cost Calculator for pricing details.
  2. The Solutions Guide
    We publish a free curriculum with >200 ready-to-use Think Sheets for developing physics concepts. The Solutions Guide is a download containing the source documents, PDFs of source documents, and answers/solutions in MS Word and PDF format. An expanded license agreement is included with the purchase. (Cost: $25 download)
  3. Teacher Presentation Pack
    This is a large collection of downloadable content packed with nearly 190 Microsoft PowerPoint slide decks, the corresponding Lesson Notes (as PDF and fully-modifiable MS Word format), about 170 animations (in .gif, .png, and .mp4 file formats), a countless number of ready-to-use images (including the original source documents that would allow for easy modification of those images), and a license that allows teachers to modify and use all the content with their classes on password-protected sites (such as course management systems).  (Cost: $40 download)
  4. Question Bank
    We distribute a Question Bank that includes more than 9300 questions neatly organized according to topic. The Question Bank is the perfect tool for busy teachers or new teachers. Even if you don't use the website with your classes, the Question Bank will assist you in quickly putting together quizzes, tests and other documents with high-quality questions that target student's conceptions of physics principles. And if you do use The Physics Classroom website, the Question Bank is the perfect complement to the materials found at the website. (Cost: $25 download)