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Average Acceleration

Define and calculate average acceleration using formulas

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Adventure at the Car Dealer's

Help!! Which vehicle should I buy?

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Negotiating with a car dealer on testing out Lambourghini vehicles. [Figure1]

In average acceleration, you simply look at the change in velocity and the change in time. Thus, we have the following formula established:

aavg = △V/ △T= (Vf - Vi )/(Tf  - Ti)  

However, it is incorrect to assume that greater acceleration means greater speed. You can have vehicles that only maintain a high acceleration for a few seconds, while you can have vehicles that maintain a slightly lower acceleration longer. This is because vehicles may have different top speeds. 

You have already bought a huge mansion in Beverly Hills and you still have billions of dollars to invest. You want to get a Lamborghini, but you have to decide which type you like. You are extremely skeptical of the vehicle information provided by the car dealer, so you asked the car dealer if you can test drive 5 different Lamborghini vehicles. Fortunately, the car dealer said yes. The ideal vehicle you would like would be one in which the acceleration is the highest. As you sit with the car dealer during the test drive, you carry on a stopwatch to see how the speed of the vehicle changes with time.

Creative Applications

1. If there were two cars with the same average acceleration, how would you determine which car to choose?

2. Do some research. What factors would affect a car’s acceleration? 

3. To further test the cars, you put two of them in a drag race. One of them wins the race, but the other has a higher average acceleration. How is this possible?

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  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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