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Speed Velocity Momentum Acceleration

This Force and Motion MatchCard compares speed, velocity, momentum, and acceleration.

Speed and Velocity Worksheet

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Speed Velocity Momentum Acceleration MatchCard

Objective: Define speed, velocity, momentum, and acceleration.

Provides the definition, formula, examples and demonstration activities for speed, velocity, momentum, and acceleration.

Projects: Toy car for demonstrations. Describe an amusement park ride you would invent using these terms.

Download and Use the Speed Velocity Momentum Acceleration MatchCard

Speed and Velocity Worksheet download arrow
This is MatchCard #6 of the Force and Motion Unit Study. You can find more information on MatchCard Science below.

Definitions and Concepts


This is the easiest for students to grasp. Ask them what they think speed is?

Definition: Speed is the amount of distance in a given time.

Use a toy car to visualize the concept of speed. If you went 25 miles in one hour, what is your speed? What if you went 150 miles in 2 hours?

In physics, speed is often measured in meters per second. When we travel, we often use miles per hour.

Formula: Rate equals distance divided by time

Rate = Distance/Time

Examples of speed:
  • 50 mph
  • 1,000,000,000 miles per second
  • 10 meters per second
What objects might travel the speeds listed above?


Ask what velocity is. How does it compare to speed?

Use your toy car to visualize this example.
    Imagine you were traveling to another city at 50 miles per hour. You traveled for one hour. Then you realized you forgot something. The car is turned around, and you go 50 mph for 30 minutes.

Your speed was 50 mph. However, you only traveled 25 miles in one and a half hours.

That is a velocity of 16 mph. Not much progress for someone going 50 mph, is it?

Velocity is often used with airplane travel. In addition to changing directions, air planes also travel up and down. The velocity, however, is speed in a given direction from the beginning to the end of the trip.

Velocity is written as speed in a given direction, and usually the direction is stated.

  • North at 45 mph
  • Southeast at 350 mph


Ask: What would do more damage? A large truck going 25 mph that hits a building, or a small car?


Momentum is the scientific concept that multiples mass with speed.

Momentum is defined as the power of a moving object to keep moving. In this example the heavier truck had more power to keep moving, so it caused more damage.

Mass X Velocity

In our common language we often talk about "momentum" and "the snow ball effect." This might be a good time to review what the snow ball effect is. The snow ball picks up mass (gets larger) and velocity (speed going downhill) with time. Therefore, it gains momentum.

Popular ideas and trends often are said to "gain momentum" even if there is no scientific object. Can you discuss examples?


Ask what acceleration is. Can you give common examples?

The definition of acceleration is the change in speed over time.

Using your toy car, demonstrate this example:
  • Your car is stationary when you first get in.
  • Then it begins moving 5 mph for 2 seconds.
  • Then it goes 10 mph for 2 seconds.
  • Then it goes 15 mph for 2 seconds.
The car accelerated from 0 mph to 15 mph in 6 seconds.

Discuss the feeling of acceleration when a car is merging onto a highway. You can also refer to acceleration on a bike or jet.

Scientists usually measure acceleration in meters per second per second. In the example above, the original time listed was 15 mph. That would actually be 1600 meters (one mile) in 3600 seconds (one hour) per second.

That would be .444 meters per second per second.

Or, every second the car went .444 meters faster than the second before.

The formula is change in speed divided by time.

Change in Speed/Time elapsed

Deceleration is the negative change in speed over time. Compare the sensations of accelerating and decelerating.

Brainstorm a list of things that accelerate. Add to the list over the weeks of your Force and Motion Unit Study.

Go for a Spin

Using a car or other mode of transportation, consider how speed, velocity, momentum, and acceleration are related.

Think of why light weight cars are raced and not 18 wheelers.

How do speed, velocity, momentum and acceleration apply to amusement park rides? Describe a new amusement ride you would like to invent, and use these terms in your description.

MatchCard Science

How To Use MatchCards

MatchCard Science Instructor's Guide

MatchCards are reusable worksheets that correspond to the objectives in the MatchCard Science curriculum. They are used to teach new objectives and to review content previously learned in a fun, interactive method.

See more information about how to use MatchCards in your science program by downloading the FREE MatchCard Science Instructor's Guide.

Investing a little time to set up a MatchCard notebook pays big dividends as your school year progresses.

Zoology Unit Study

Force and Motion Unit Study Cover

From six simple machines to Newton's Laws, our Force & Motion Unit Study from MatchCard Science helps kids get their hands into science and simple physics..

It will take four to six weeks to complete the seven objectives in this Unit Study.

Download the entire Force And Motion Unit Study.

12 Complete MatchCard Science Unit Studies

MatchCard Science Cover

There are a total of 12 unit studies, including the Zoology unit study.

Comprehensive objectives, hands-on projects, suggested science fair experiments, and the fun game-like MatchCards keep them interested in learning science. Check out the other eleven MatchCard Science Unit Studies.

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