# “This is a boss equation.”

We’ve been pushing graphical methods to solve problems (see: Vector Addition Diagrams, IFF Charts, LOL diagrams, etc) like nobody’s business. So even just a few units into the year, these physics kids may be graphical problem-solving wizards, but a lot of them still hunger for equations in an insatiable sort of way. Even though we… Read More “This is a boss equation.”

# Why do we need both momentum and energy?

Since seeing Brian’s post about asking students this question, I’ve been thinking about how my students might answer. In one section of Honors Physics, we’re just wrapping up a second look at momentum and energy transfer (mainly using problems that involve a transition between using both in the same analysis). My Honors kids have written… Read More Why do we need both momentum and energy?

# Building the Projectile Motion Particle Model

Due to differences in math comfort and overall motivation, I take rather different approaches to starting this unit in my two classes. In Honors Physics, we typically spend 4 to 6 class periods worth of work on the entire unit. In the regular physics classes, we spend at least a couple of weeks. Honors Physics… Read More Building the Projectile Motion Particle Model

# Energy Bar Charts (LOL Diagrams)

“LOL diagrams are my life.” —Honors Physics student from 2010 I have to admit, first of all, that I wasn’t expecting to love energy bar charts (when I first heard about them). I didn’t originally learn to solve energy problems that way, and when I first saw them, I thought it was a silly waste… Read More Energy Bar Charts (LOL Diagrams)

# Common Types of Energy (ETM Cheat Sheet)

After starting to build the Energy Transfer Model (ETM), we have the beginnings of an idea about change in energy. In order to start playing around with energy transfer, we need a common vocabulary. The front of the packet gives students a place to write down the information. It is handy to use as a… Read More Common Types of Energy (ETM Cheat Sheet)

# 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… Read More Building the Energy Transfer Model

# 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… Read More Common Types of Forces (BFPM Cheat Sheet)

# 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… Read More Momentum Bar Charts (IF Charts, IFF Charts)

# 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.]… Read More Building the Momentum Transfer Model

# 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… Read More Building the Unbalanced Force Particle Model