VMS - Velocity and Acceleration Animation
Packed into this app is all that you’ll ever need to truly grasp the mathematics behind what motion is – how to describe it, how to calculate it and how to illustrate it in graphical form. For those just starting off on their journey of motion – your confidence will grow as you ‘see’ the basics explained. For the veteran masters of speed, you will be challenged by the detail of the connections between distance, velocity and acceleration.
This is one in a suite of similar apps that present maths and science concepts in an unambiguous and simple manner. In this case, we are taken step-by-step through the basics of speed, velocity and acceleration with each step building on the knowledge of the previous one. The layout is basic which makes navigating through the different sections very obvious and the additional instructions give clear direction for how to interact with any of the visuals.
The main screen reads as a list of sections that can be selected in any order. Generally, in each section a toy car and its driver (sweetly named after the writer’s grandchildren), makes its way across the screen with a distance scale and timer to indicate the type of motion of the car. Coloured bars appear along the distance scale which neatly show the distance travelled in unit time.
You will be guided very efficiently through the meanings of the essential physical key terms and each is illustrated well with many examples to help the learner. Of course it is the application of these terms that mathematicians need to grasp if they are to truly master their meaning. This skill is put to the test throughout each section with a number of questions based on the animations. For some of the trickier calculations there is an integrated calculator that can be accessed easily.
The main learning points cover calculating speed and acceleration of a moving vehicle along with analysing their motion graphs for their journey. Once you reach the final section you can take control of the motion and design your own graph. You can mix together values for acceleration and positive or negative velocity as you wish and the app plots the motion on graphs of distance-time, velocity-time and acceleration-time. The demos for this section also give simple direction for working out velocity from distance-time graphs and distance covered from velocity-time graphs. It is worth noting that these graphs can be toggled on or off for some of the earlier sections. This adds a nice touch that gives the learner the option of bringing together all the visual information to help them learn.
There is plenty here for a wide range of abilities to develop their understanding further. For those who are new to these concepts they will find the descriptions and visuals complement each other to provide a firm starting point. There is much scope too for those who can be challenged to understand the mathematical integration between distance, velocity and acceleration from the motion graphs. For the purists there may be a little frustration that the term ‘displacement’ is not mentioned throughout the app. There is a clear distinction made between ‘speed’ and ‘velocity’ but ‘distance’ is used for the calculation of both and in the motion graphs.
The graphics are very plain and never attempt to distract from the learning. Boxes of text appear to give instructions or explain the mathematics of the motion displayed. There is no attempt to dazzle the audience with any trappings or frills, everything about the app is centred on the clear-cut delivery of the learning – which it does very well!
From the Developer
Visual Maths and Science (VMS) Velocity and Acceleration is for learners at school as well as first year physics and engineering students who need to have a better understanding of velocity and acceleration. Students can experience these concepts in action. They can do a number of exercises.