Initial Notes to Teachers - Helpful notes related to the entire unit.
Constant Velocity Problems - Handout with complete solutions and discussion notes for the answers. These 10 problems show how the answers to simple calculations can reveal fundamental physical principles to students. These problems also involve unit conversions and begin to set the stage for more complicated problems.
Organizing Problem Solutions - Handout with the same elements on a Powerpoint. This handout/Powerpoint identifies the basic elements of a problem solution and provides the justification of the overall solution approach.
Practice Problems - Handout with complete solutions. These 31 problems are constant acceleration problems that involve all of the motion formulas and most rearrangements of those equations.
Quizzes - Practice Problems - Three versions of a 4 question quiz with solutions. These quizzes either include problems that are very close to the problems from the Constant Velocity and Practice Problems homework/practice or exactly the same problems. The connection between doing the practice problems and success on the quiz becomes obvious.
Calculator Connection - Train Crash? - Handout with complete answers. This handout continues to exercise the student’s ability to solve motion problems. However it introduces a twist that is nicely handled by utilizing the graphing calculator. Also connects with factoring polynomials from math class.
Calculator Connection and Quiz - Handout with complete answers and three versions of the quiz. This handout exercises the student’s ability to use the graphing calculator to solve problems similar to the Train Crash Problem. The quiz simply confirms their ability to perform this calculator solution.
Ball Toss - Handout/exercise. This exercise introduces the acceleration of gravity by examining the position and velocity data from a projectile. The discussion of the results helps introduce some basic principles students need to solve motion problems involving gravity.
Dollar Drop - Handout/activity. Can you catch a dollar bill dropped between your fingers? Students are now at the point where they can calculate support for why this is ‘impossible’.
Gravity Example Problems and Practice Problems - Handout with problems and complete solutions. This set of 14 problems completes the student’s base preparation in both problem solution and motion problems.
Motion Problem Review. This is a summary of the principles involved in solving motion problems. It does not include more problems.
Tests - Three versions with complete solutions. Each test has 16 items that completely cover the problems covered in this unit including the graphing calculator activities. Again, many of the problems are directly from the homework/practice - doing the practice will have a direct payoff.
Shuttle Article - Handout/problems/analysis. This is an 'extra' opportunity to analyze the first Space Shuttle disaster, the explosion of the Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986. Students use information from a newspaper article to answer questions related to the motion of the crew cabin until it ultimately lands in the ocean.
Comments: I cringe at the thought of physics instruction being reduced to “plug-and-chug” activities. Unfortunately I know of people who were taught ‘physics’ with “plug-and-chug” as the sole method of instruction. To say something was lost is an understatement.
Having said that, developing the ability to analyze a text-based problem, organize a solution, and successfully communicate a solution requires the development of useful habits and it is a basic and necessary skill in order to be successful in physics classes (and others). Kinematics problems offer an excellent early opportunity to begin developing these habits and skills. With some added thought questions, some in-class discussion of the answers, and the use of graphing calculators, the process can become more than just a series of substitution exercises. It can be part of a more significant examination of basic physics principles, it can integrate legitimate technological methods of solution, and it can serve to develop a student’s mental framework related to physics. (Hence the “+” in the title above.)
I prefer the typical list of kinematics equations be derived from analyzing motion experiments so the equations represent the student’s experience with motion. This unit would then either follow that kind of equation development or could be used (less effectively) on its own.
This unit emphasizes habits that communicate solutions to others. It provides a variety of text-based problems that ensure all of the kinematics equations are used and practiced. It integrates graphing calculator solutions. The tests include a cross-section of problems designed to use all of the equations and the graphical calculator methods. In large part the problems on the tests are the very same problems as on the practice assignments leading up to the test. Solutions (sometimes multiple solutions) to all problems are provided.
NOTE: Of the 77 pages about half are answer keys/helps.