Demonstrate your understanding of motion graphs by creating real-world motion(s) that match a graph(s) you've been given.


Motion Detector, Interface, Dynamics Cart, Dynamics Track


  1. Obtain the graph you are going to match from your instructor. Note that the match will be in terms of shape of graph rather than matching specific numerical values.
  2. Make a prediction of what kind of motion would be necessary to produce a graph of the shape you’ve been given. Then determine how you could set up the cart and track to produce that specific graph.
  3. Set up your dynamics cart and track as you’ve determined. Practice giving the cart any required starting motion and coordinate your group to collect data.
  4. Plug the Motion Detector into your interface and launch the data collection program. Set any variables you need such as length of data collection, collection rate, etc.
  5. Collect data for one run. Compare it to the graph you were given. Make changes as needed until you get the desired results. Save your "unsuccessful" runs to include in your final report.
  6. Save the file and/or print the final graph as instructed. Explain how you ultimately obtained the correct results. Relate the motion of your cart to the graph you produced.


  1. This could be a quantitative lab where values are determined for the graph in advance. Then students would be graded based on how close they came to matching the exact graph they were given. Suggest this only for an honors or AP class.
  2. The first extension could be used as a "practicum". The graph would be given to the class and then they would work in groups to determine how to set up the equipment. The class would elect representatives to set up their solution and then everyone would receive points based on how closely the final graph matched the one given.
  3. Rather than using a dynamics cart and track, students could use their own body motion to create the graphs. Some samples that could be used are attached. This would be particularly effective in a one-computer classroom.

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C. Bakken
January 2008