When physicists want detailed
information about an object's movement, they gather data about
it every second or millisecond. Sometimes, they gather the
displacement (distance and direction from a starting point) at
each moment in time, and other times, it is more useful to
record the object's velocity.

The data collected is then
transformed into a visual representation, with the independent
variable, time, on the x-axis and either the object's distance
and direction or its velocity on the vertical axis. This plot, a
snapshot of the object's motion, is a powerful tool that brings
abstract concepts to life. But the real magic lies in the slope
of a motion plot, which holds even more information, waiting to
be deciphered.

Here's how it
works. You'll probably remember that the slope of any plot is
ΔY/ΔX. Therefore, the slope of a displacement vs time plot at
any given time would tell you about the object's velocity
(Δd/Δt) during the interval you are concerned with. On the other
hand, the slope of a velocity vs time plot during a time
interval would reveal the object's acceleration. This is because
acceleration is ΔV/Δt.

Video Instruction

showmethephysics.com

Enduring Understanding

1. The slope
of a distance or position vs time plot tells allows us to
calculate the speed of an object.