Directional Displacement Problems

Maple Learn

2-dimensional motion and displacement are some of the first topics that high school students learn in their physics class. In my physics classes, I loved solving 2-dimensional displacement problems because they require the use of so many different math concepts: trigonometry, coordinate conversions, and vector operations are all necessary to solve these problems. Though displacement problems can seem complicated, they are easy to visualize.
For example, below is a visualization of the displacement of someone who walked 10m in the direction 30o North of East, then walked 15m in the direction 45o South of East:

From just looking at the diagram, most people could identify that the final position is some angle Southeast of the initial position and perhaps estimate the distance between these two positions. However, finding an exact solution requires various computations, which are all outlined in the Directional Displacement Example Problem document on Maple Learn.

Solving a problem like this is a great way to practice solving triangles, adding vectors, computing vector norms, and converting points to and from polar form. If you want to practice these math skills, try out Maple Learn’s Directional Displacement Quiz; this document randomly generates displacement questions for you to solve. Have fun practicing!

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