1-D Motion Maps

The purpose of a motion map is to show you the position, velocity, and acceleration of an object at various clock readings.

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In motion map A, suppose an object is moving at a constant velocity to the right. Each arrow is the same length, showing us that it is moving at a constant velocity. This also means that there is no acceleration.

Each of these motion maps have no acceleration.

If we make right the positive direction, that would make objects A, B, and D traveling in a positive direction, while C is moving in the negative direction.

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Motion map five shows us that there is an increasing velocity and there is a constant acceleration. We know this because the velocity vectors are getting bigger, while the acceleration vectors are staying the same. We are told in both motion maps that right is the positive direction.

In motion map six, the velocity vectors are staying constant so we know the velocity itself is constant. The acceleration vectors are only represented as dots in this motion map because there is no acceleration.

2-D Motion Maps

A 2-D motion map shows the velocity of both the horizontal and vertical dimensions. 2-D motion maps are ideally used with projectiles, which are objects that only gravity is affecting.


If someone tosses an object, say, a ball, the ball will be going both horizontally and vertically. The ball begins its path moving in the positive direction upwards, then gravity accelerates the projectile in a negative direction, eventually bringing it to a stop at the peak of its path. Meanwhile, the ball has no forces affecting its horizontal movement, providing that air resistance is negligible. So, it is moving at a constant speed horizontally and accelerating at a constant rate negatively in the vertical direction.