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Projectiles…/sigh

October 17, 2012

This year I find myself teaching two sections of honors physics. These students come in with a somewhat stronger math background and generally a higher level of interest in science. In years past success with projectile motion has been mixed. I know that there’s an easy road out there. I know that if I just ask them to calculate say, max height with formula X, and range across a flat surface with equation Y that I’ll get reliable success.

I also know that I’m entirely uninterested in that outcome. Yes I can train students to be reliable calculators, but what’s the point? Where’s the learning value in doing the same thing over and over again. 53% of the benefit of doing physics is in tuning the brain into a lean mean problem solving system grokking machine. Rote plug and chug misses this completely.

 
My students this year, and every other year, have been struggling with projectile motion. Struggling to embrace the essential 2-d equations of motion. I made this little summary sheet for them. I wonder if it helps? What extra resources might you point out to kids working their way through projectile motion?

Projectiles

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 17, 2012 4:15 pm

    Get rid of the equations and do everything graphically. It involves more conceptual understanding while also being accessible to a lower math comfort level. It works every time and it makes sense. šŸ™‚

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