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Position, Velocity and

Acceleration
3.2

Acceleration
All

We

are normally given a function relating the

position of a moving object with respect to
time.
Velocity is the derivative of position
Acceleration is the derivative of velocity

Acceleration
Position

s(t) or x(t)

Velocity

v(t) or s(t)

Acceleration

Speed

Example
If

the position of a particle at time t is given by

the equation below, find the velocity and
acceleration of the particle at time, t = 5.

s (t ) t 3 11t 2 24t
v(t ) s ' (t ) 3t 2 22t 24
v(5) 3(5) 22(5) 24 11
2

a (5) 6(5) 22 8

Acceleration

When velocity is negative, the particle is moving to

the left or backwards
When velocity is positive, the particle is moving to
the right or forwards
When velocity and acceleration have the same sign,
the speed is increasing
When velocity and acceleration have opposite signs,
the speed is decreasing.
When velocity = 0 and acceleration does not, the
particle is momentarily stopped and changing
direction.

Example
If

the position of a particle is given below, find

the point at which the particle changes
direction.

s (t ) t 12t 36t 18
3

v(t ) 3t 2 24t 36

a (t ) 6t 24
a (6) 12
a (2) 12

Changes direction
when velocity = 0
and acceleration
does not

0 3t 2 24t 36
0 t 2 8t 12
0 (t 6)(t 2)
t 6, 2

Example
Using

the previous function, find the interval

of time during which the particle is slowing
down.
V(t) = 0 at 2 and
6, a(t) = 0 at 4

s (t ) t 12t 36t 18
3

v(t ) 3t 2 24t 36
a (t ) 6t 24
Particle is slowing
down when,
0<t<2
4<t<6

t
v(t)
a(t)

+
-

+
+

Example

When velocity = 0

How

far does a particle travel between the

eighth and tenth seconds if its position is
given by: s(t ) t 2 6t

distance we
must find if the
particle
changes
directions at
any time in the
interval

v(t ) 2t 6

0 2t 6
3t

The object may travel

forward then backwards, thus
s(10) s(8) is really only the
3 displacement
is not in our interval
it will
not theso
total
not affect
our problem!
distance!

s (10) s (8) 40 16 24

Example
How

far does a particle travel between zero

and four seconds if its position is given by:
s (t ) t 4 8t 2
v(t ) 4t 3 16t

s (2) s (0) s (4) s (2)

16 32 128 16

v(t ) 4t (t 2 4)
0 4t (t 2)(t 2)

160

t 0, 2, 2
Divide into intervals; 02 and 24

At any time t, the position of a particle moving along an

axis is: s (t ) t 3 6t 2 9t
A. Find the bodys acceleration each time the velocity is zero

v(t ) 3t 2 12t 9
s (1) 0s(0t)2 4s (t 2) 3 s (1)

C. Find the total distance traveled by the body from t = 0 to t = 2

4 00 (2t 34)(t 1)

t 3, 1

a(t ) 6t 12
a (1Velocity
) 6= 0 at 1!
a(3) 6

a(t ) 6t 12
0 6t 12
t2

v(2) 12 24 9 3

3
axis is:
t
2

s (t )

2t 3t

v(t ) t 2 4t 3

v(t)

0 (t 3)(t 1)
t 3, 1

Forward (0, 1) and (3, )

Backwards from (1, 3)

B. When is the velocity increasing? decreasing?

a(t ) 2t 4
Velocity increasing:
(1, 2) and (3,
t )2
Velocity decreasing:
(0, 1) and (2, 3)

t
v(t)
a(t)

+
-

+
+