The Vector Addition Interactive is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Interactive can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks makes it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.

To use the Interactive, learners should click or tap in the middle of one of the three vectors and drag the vector onto the "canvas" (large, empty area with the background grid). The arrowhead of the vector can then be maneuvered to change the direction fo the vectors. Vectors can be dragged anywhere on the canvas and arranged in a head-to-tail fashion.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive is intended for use near the beginning to middle stages of a learning cycle on the addition of vectors. The emphasis of the activity is on understanding how vectors can be added using a head-to-tail method. The Interactive can also be used to demonstrate how the components of the vectors to be added can be used to determine the components of the resultant. 

There are likely numerous strategies for using this Interactive in the classroom. We can imagine using it very early in a learning cycle on the graphical addition of vectors; simply let students explore. After a little exploration, some guided examples can be used, followed by a collection of practice problems. 

The Physics Classroom has prepared an activity for use with this Interactive. The activity's emphasis is on associating the graphical addition (head-to-tail addition) of vectors with the component addition of vectors. Students are provided with four separate problems to solve using both the head-to-tail method and the trigonometric method. A background grid is provided for the graphical methods. Students will still need to plan on where to start the process and how to add consecutive vectors. Space is provided for showing work on the trigonometric method. Components of the individual vectors can be organized in a table; a separate row is provided for the resultant's components. Students can use the Interactive to check their answers.

View Activity.

Our Vector Addition simulation is now available with a Concept Checker. Do the simulation. Then follow it up with the Concept Checker.


Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Vector Addition Interactive. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignments VP2, VP3, VP4, and VP5 of the Vectors and Projectiles module provide great complements to this Interactive. They are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Curriculum/Practice: Several Concept Development worksheets at the Curriculum Corner will be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding, most notably ...

    Addition of Vectors
    Vector Components, Vector Resolution and Vector Addition
    Vector Addition by Components

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

  • Labwork: 
    Simulations should always support (never replace) hands-on learning. The Laboratory section of The Physics Classroom website includes several hands-on ideas that complement this Interactive. Four notable lab ides include ...

    Map Lab
    As the Crow Flies Lab
    Where Am I? Lab
    Road Trip Lab

    Visit The Laboratory.

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating Vector Addition into an instructional unit on vectors can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.


The Physics Classroom would like to extend a special thanks to Nerd Island Studios for the creation of this HTML5 Interactive. Visit their website ( to see more great stuff by Nerd Island Studios.

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