Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo



The picture is a race car with large wheels turning on a track.
Figure 6.1 This Australian Grand Prix Formula 1 race car moves in a circular path as it makes the turn. Its wheels also spin rapidly. The same physical principles are involved in both of these motions. (Richard Munckton).

Teacher Support

Teacher Support

Before students begin this chapter, they may wish to review the concepts of distance, displacement, speed, velocity, acceleration, force, and Newton’s laws of motion. Address any misconceptions about centrifugal force.

Point out that we come across circular motion in our everyday lives; for instance, a car tire spinning, a fan rotating, and so forth. This chapter is about the quantities that describe rotational motion and the relationships between them.

You may recall learning about various aspects of motion along a straight line: kinematics (where we learned about displacement, velocity, and acceleration), projectile motion (a special case of two-dimensional kinematics), force, and Newton’s laws of motion. In some ways, this chapter is a continuation of Newton’s laws of motion. Recall that Newton’s first law tells us that objects move along a straight line at constant speed unless a net external force acts on them. Therefore, if an object moves along a circular path, such as the car in the photo, it must be experiencing an external force. In this chapter, we explore both circular motion and rotational motion.

Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute Texas Education Agency (TEA). The original material is available at: . Changes were made to the original material, including updates to art, structure, and other content updates.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Jan 19, 2024 Texas Education Agency (TEA). The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.