Graphical Solutions for Forces and Kinematics (Workshop Recap)

I gave a workshop with Mike Pustie in NYC in June and with Casey Rutherford in Minneapolis in July on using a graphical approach to solve kinematics and force problems. I wrote a bit about the content involved in my preview post, and I wanted to follow that up here by making the slides and content available to anyone interested. The full presentation is available here and is embedded below.


Overall, both workshops seemed to be successful, even if one had to be #unsanctioned, and at least one participant has already been reporting success with implementing the strategies in class:


I had a great time sharing with everyone and learned some new things myself, too! Thank you to everyone who helped make the workshops happen (including the participants!).

Future Workshops

1) There is a “Part 2” to this workshop scheduled for Sunday October 19th (2014) via STEMteachersNYC. It will be on Graphical Physics Solutions for Momentum and Energy (including going beyond just bar charts for problem solving in those models). If you’re in the NYC area, I hope to see you there! I’ll also post some recap information here, too, once that is complete.

2) I should be presenting a full day workshop in a more “sanctioned” manner at next summer’s AAPT meeting in Maryland. The plan for the workshop is to spend half of the time on this graphical solutions material and half of the time on what I’m calling “advanced whiteboarding techniques”—strategies for whiteboarding beyond the basic student presentations (practicing using mistake whiteboarding, speed dating, etc). I’m really excited about getting to do that, and I hope it will be appealing and helpful to others.

14 thoughts on “Graphical Solutions for Forces and Kinematics (Workshop Recap)

  1. Kelly,

    I’ve somewhat used velocity versus time graphs for solving kinematics problems, but I’m unsure of how to solve a projectile motion problem in this way. Is there any way you can share an example student solution for a projectile motion? In past years, I have given up and resorted to equations at that point. Thank you for sharing your insight!


    1. I think that I figured it out. Do the kids use an x vs t graph to keep track of x-direction information and a v vs t graph to track y-direction information? The graphs really become a repository of the information that I used to have students put in a table of knowns.


        1. Kelly,

          Both myself and another physics teacher at my school have tried using goal-less problems in our class and have been really happy with them. Do you mind if we present about this at the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers conference to share this idea with a wider audience? I will, of course, give you credit for the awesome ideas, and if you would like, I will share your blog address.


    2. I spent several days developing a graphical approach to projectiles in my physics class this year. I found it necessary after years of students in regular physics struggling with projectiles. We began with a video analysis lab using LoggerPro and a basketball shot. The graphs were recognizable to the students from constant velocity and uniform acceleration units. We then spent a few class periods analyzing problems from a purely graphical approach. A number of students really liked this approach and have now taken to solving any motion problem by starting with a graph, when possible. I found it to be very beneficial and plan on refining and implementing this annually. I developed a few worksheets which are designed to scaffold these concepts which I would be happy to share. Thanks for all you do Kelly!

  2. Kelly
    Thanks for sharing all your experiences in using a Modeling approach to Physics education. I am currently trying to apply this technique to the Australian curriculum for yrs 8-12. I would be grateful if you could share your packets as pages docs with me as i would like to adjust them to match our curriculum descriptors. Also how have you found your `experiment` of rearranging units to start with energy?

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