This tag is associated with 36 posts

Building the Energy Transfer Model

Hey guys, bring a pencil and a calculator next door. I want to show you something that’s been bothering me a lot. Springs are strange I’ve been thinking a lot about springs. They’re sort of odd, you know? When you hold them like this [hold spring looped to one finger on each hand and stretched … Continue reading

Common Types of Forces (BFPM Cheat Sheet)

Before we can start building the Balanced Force Particle Model, we have to overcome some language problems. As was frequently said at the Modeling Workshop that I attended (and is repeated frequently in my classroom), “Physics is a foreign language that sounds just like English.” The word force is a prime offender, so we need to … Continue reading

Velocity Graphs into Equations

aka How to kill . Now that we’re pros (Wheaties box, here we come) at drawing velocity-vs-time graphs, we need to be able to turn those graphs into equations if we want to use them as tools for solving problems. One big stumbling block in solving constant acceleration (CAPM) problems is that, very very often, … Continue reading

Momentum Bar Charts (IF Charts, IFF Charts)

Disclaimer: I most certainly did not come up with this type of diagram, though the name (IF charts) is probably unique to my classes since it’s based on the way one of my first Modeling Physics students drew her bar charts. This post is meant to be a how-to and a why-to guide for the … Continue reading

Building the Momentum Transfer Model

Hey guys, bring a pencil and a whiteboard next door. I want to show you something cool. [Wave them over to the lab. At the front table, there are two tracks set up to make one long track (half of which is a ramp). Two carts and some extra masses (blocks) are at the ready.] … Continue reading

Building the Unbalanced Force Particle Model

Hey guys, I want to show you something cool. Bring your new packet and a pencil and come next door. Make sure the stools are out of the way or someone’s going to get themselves killed in this experiment. Stand on the other side of the table. Don’t stand at the end there; you’re going … Continue reading

Building the Constant Acceleration Model

Hey guys, I want to show you something cool. [As they came in, you discussed the uber-important catching the cart with the student sitting near the end of the ramp.] Whoa, that was pretty cool, huh? Want to see it again? Of course you do. [Let the cart go down the ramp again.] Cool. Okay, so … Continue reading

Building the Balanced Force Particle Model

Hey guys! [Turn on hover disc. Wait a moment. Turn it off.] Something new! Let’s look at it! I want to show you something cool. Let’s all sit on the floor right here. [Get everyone sitting in a circle in the middle of the room on the tile floor. Turn the hover disc back on. … Continue reading

Effort vs Luck

Now that we are out of September, my students have enough work to do outside of class that I don’t need to assign any specific homework. Still, this view of in-class and out-of-class work is a huge paradigm shift for my students. Do they still have physics homework if there’s never anything “due” or that … Continue reading

Monk Whiteboarding

Last spring, a large number of students at my school observed a day of silence. Since so many of my students wouldn’t be speaking in class, and since I don’t find it very productive for me to do the talking in class, I decided to come up with an alternate plan. I decided to have … Continue reading


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