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AQA GCSE Physics Speed

Speed

This page covers the following topics:

Speed is a scalar quantity, it has a magnitude but no direction. That means that a train that is moving 30 km/h west moves at the same speed as a train that is moving at 30 km/h east.

Speed is usually measured in m/s or km/h, although other compound units may be used. To convert the value of a speed from m/s to km/h, multiply the value by 3.6. To convert speed from km/h to m/s, divide by 3.6.

Speed

When describing speed for walking, running and cycling, the speeds will vary due to many factors, such as age, fitness level and the total distance travelled. As age increases, the average typical walking speed of the person decreases. As fitness level increases, the typical average running speed increases.

The typical speed of sound in air is approximately 340 m/s, whereas in a vacuum it is 0 m/s. This is because there are no particles present, which are needed to propagate sound waves, therefore they do not travel in a vacuum.

Typical speed values

The equation used to calculate the steady speed of a moving object can also be used to calculate the speed of objects moving at a non-steady speed. The resultant speed is called the average speed and is calculated using the total distance travelled and the time within which it is travelled. For an object not moving at a steady speed, the instantaneous speed cannot be known, since the speed will be different at any point in time during its journey.

Average speed

A distance-time graph can be drawn to model the motion of an object moving in a straight line. The gradient of a distance-time graph represents the speed of the object, thus the greater the slope of the graph, the greater the speed of the object.

A straight line in a distance-time graph represents an object moving at a constant speed since the gradient throughout the line stays the same. To find a distance travelled between two particular points on a straight line in the graph, find the difference between the two displacements on the graph.

Interpreting distance-time graphs

The gradient of a distance-time graph represents the speed of the object whose motion it describes. For objects travelling at a constant speed, this can be calculated using a triangle, whereas for acelerating objects, a tangent can be drawn at the point for which the speed is wanted and the triangle for the tangent line can be used to calculate the speed.

Gradient of distance-time graphs

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Is speed a scalar or vector quantity? Explain your answer.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed Is speed a scalar or vector quantity? Explain your answer.
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2

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Anne is running at a speed of 6.5 m/s, while Sumitha is running at a speed of 21.6 km/h. Compare their speeds.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed Anne is running at a speed of 6.5 m/s, while Sumitha is running at a speed of 21.6 km/h. Compare their speeds.
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3

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Explain how age may affect the average walking speed of a person.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed Explain how age may affect the average walking speed of a person.
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4

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A vehicle is travelling at a speed of 60 m/s. Using knowledge of typical speed values, deduce what type of vehicle this is.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed A vehicle is travelling at a speed of 60 m/s. Using knowledge of typical speed values, deduce what type of vehicle this is.
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5

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A car travels a distance of 126 km in 1 hour at a steady speed. Explain whether this is realistic.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed A car travels a distance of 126 km in 1 hour at a steady speed. Explain whether this is realistic.
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6

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Given that an object covers a distance of 79 metres in 3 minutes, calculate the average speed of the object to 3 significant figures.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed Given that an object covers a distance of 79 metres in 3 minutes, calculate the average speed of the object to 3 significant figures.
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7

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A train is travelling at an average speed of 55 m/s. Explain what this tells us about the instantaneous speed of the train at any point in time during its journey.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed A train is travelling at an average speed of 55 m/s. Explain what this tells us about the instantaneous speed of the train at any point in time during its journey.
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8

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Tony is trying to catch a bus by running to a bus stop which is 0.8 km from his house at an average speed of 2.5 m/s. Given that the bus is due to arrive in 2 minutes, decide whether Tony will catch the bus.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed Tony is trying to catch a bus by running to a bus stop which is 0.8 km from his house at an average speed of 2.5 m/s. Given that the bus is due to arrive in 2 minutes, decide whether Tony will catch the bus.
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9

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Draw the graph of an object moving in a straight line at a constant speed and describe shortly what information its gradient gives.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed Draw the graph of an object moving in a straight line at a constant speed and describe shortly what information its gradient gives.
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10

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Sketch the distance-time graph of an accelerating (with an increasing speed) object.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed Sketch the distance-time graph of an accelerating (with an increasing speed) object.
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11

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State what is given by the gradient of a distance-time graph.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed State what is given by the gradient of a distance-time graph.
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12

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The distance-time graph of a moving object is modelled by a non-straight line. Explain what this says about the speed of the object.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed The distance-time graph of a moving object is modelled by a non-straight line. Explain what this says about the speed of the object.
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13

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Draw a graph for a car travelling at a constant speed of 12 m/s for the first 10 seconds of its motion.

AQA GCSE Physics Speed Draw a graph for a car travelling at a constant speed of 12 m/s for the first 10 seconds of its motion.
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