Velocity of a Falling Object

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The graph of height as a function of time for an object falling straight down is a parabola. The average velocity of this falling object approaches its instantaneous velocity as the time interval tends to zero. Interpreting this geometrically on the parabola, the slope of a secant line approaches the slope of the tangent to the curve.

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Neglecting air resistance, the object is falling to the ground from an initial height of 20 feet with an initial velocity of 0 feet/sec. Slide time to approximate the instantaneous velocity of a falling object either 0.2, 0.6, or 1 second after being dropped.

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Contributed by: Jim Brandt (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA


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