The post Kinematics Position Equation – Equation of the Week appeared first on physicsthisweek.com.

]]>This week’s equation of the week is the kinematics position equation.

We use this equation for objects that are moving in one dimension with a constant acceleration. An example would be a vehicle that is travelling on a straight road with a given acceleration.

To learn more about this equation, check out our lesson on the kinematics position equation. Most of these lessons have activities that can help you review and master the variables and units used for each equation.

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]]>The post Friction – Equation of the Week appeared first on physicsthisweek.com.

]]>Notice that this equation does not contain vector symbols. The friction force is parallel to the surface. The normal force is perpendicular to it. However, as you push harder on the surface, the frictional force becomes proportionally larger.

The constant in this equation, *μ* (Greek letter mu), is known as the coefficient of friction. It varies between zero and two. A frictionless surface would have *μ* = 0. The larger the *μ*, the more friction there is.

To learn more about this equation, visit our lesson on the friction equation.

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]]>The post Newton’s 2nd Law – Equation of the Week appeared first on physicsthisweek.com.

]]>This law relates how mass, force, and acceleration interact. It is commonly written like this…

In this equation, the sigma represents a sum, the forces are represented by F, the mass is represented by m, and the acceleration is represented by a. Notice that both sides contain vector symbols. The sum of the forces determine the direction of the acceleration.

This equation is used throughout introductory physics courses, the AP Physics exam, and referred to in nearly every branch of physics.

For more info, visit https://www.physicsthisweek.com/lessons/newtons-second-law-equation/

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]]>Surviving an online physics course is simpler than surviving a zombie apocalypse. At least it is if you make a plan and stick to it.

Some of the advice in this post will work for in-person physics classes or even other subjects, so feel free to take notes and apply what you learn.

I have been teaching online physics courses for several years, and I can see where students have done well or fallen behind. I would like to share some of these strategies with you. Hopefully they help you succeed in your online.

In a face to face classroom, you see your professor several times each week. You do not schedule anything else for that time. That meeting reminds you of the work that you need to do. If your professor is nice, they might even let you work on things during the class time.

With an online class, there may not be any set meeting times. It is up to you to remember to go online and do the work. This is where many students fall behind. Without that scheduled time, it is easy to put things off or maybe even forget that you are registered for a class.

I would recommend that you set aside several blocks of time throughout the week during which you will always work on your physics class. Do not set aside six hours all in one day, though. Break the blocks up into chunks about an hour long. You can have two one-hour blocks together, but give yourself a break every once and awhile to get up and move around.

Make sure to schedule enough time for reading the textbook, doing the labs, working on homework, and reviewing the material. You can even designate specific times for working on specific tasks. Be a little flexible with this. If you have finished your homework halfway through a homework block, use the time to read ahead or quiz yourself.

If you wait until you are motivated to work, you will not get nearly enough work done (studying and problem solving) to do well in the class. People who go to the gym at regularly scheduled times, even when they do not feel like it, do much better than folks who only go when they “feel motivated”. Motivation doesn’t get things done. Habit gets things done.

I am always surprised, and I try to not laugh out loud when a student tells me that they read the book and were surprised at how much they learned.

Textbooks are designed to help you learn the material. The author spent much more time writing the section on parallel circuits than your instructor did when putting together the related lecture. Chances are that your instructor condensed the textbook page down, leaving out some small details that might help you understand better. Read the book, watch the lecture, and review the lecture notes. Do all three, and don’t ignore the book.

In an online course, there are lots of things to be done. You need to get those things done. Your in-person teacher may not mind if you turn something in later in the afternoon, but your online teacher may have to change some settings for you to be able to turn something in late. If you e-mail it, it makes it harder for the professor to correct it.

You may find that the due dates for multiple assignments fall on the same day for an online class. For example, I break my homework assignments up into many small pieces, but they are all due on the same day. This gives students flexibility to work on things at their own pace.

I also set the due date for 11:59 pm on the due date. However, if a student sends me a question about the assignment after 7:00 pm on the due date, chances are that I have stopped working for the day. If you work on things early, you can ask questions when you are stuck. You also do not have to worry about the thunderstorm that knocks out your power on the due date.

These are not the only things that will help with surviving an online physics course. Hopefully though, they will help you get moving in the right direction.

Visit https://flcc.edu to see what courses we are offering next semester.

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]]>The post Testing H5P appeared first on physicsthisweek.com.

]]>I have been thinking about doing this for quite a while, but imagined that it would be much more difficult than it actually was. It was very easy. The whole process took less than 15 minutes. (To be fair, I already have this website, I have installed plugins before, and I had most of the images pre-made.

I had previously created some images of sawtooth, square, sine, and triangle waves that I use in my lectures and in my question bank. The plugin prompts you to drag in the images, and allows you the option of matching the same image or a different image. To complete the card set, I created a set of images that were just words, for example “Sine Wave”. In this way, I can test the student’s understanding of the term rather than just their ability to remember where a particular card is located.

I would imagine that this could be a fun way for students to test their understanding. I am planning to create cards for different equations, different variables, and other concepts.

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]]>The post Unravelling DNA: How physics helped solve the structure of DNA appeared first on physicsthisweek.com.

]]>Watson and Crick had determined the chemical compositions of DNA, but they couldn’t quite figure out how it could accomplish the genetic feats known by biologists. Rosalind Franklin’s work with x-ray diffraction provided the clues that led to the discovery of the Double Helix.

In this presentation, Dr. Johnson-Steigelman will use a laser to demonstrate diffraction and identify key features in DNA’s diffraction pattern.

2-3 p.m., Tuesday October 6, 2015 Room B245 Finger Lakes Community College 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Canandaigua, NY 14424

This is a great demonstration of how the diffraction pattern contains information about the structure of the object producing the pattern. We’ll talk about how the diffraction pattern is produced and the measurements that we take.

If you like biology, chemistry, physics or most importantly lasers, you’ll enjoy this talk.

The diffraction pattern is produced using a visible laser and a special slide produce by ICE, the Institute for Chemical Education. You can order your copy of the slide and a set of lessons related to diffraction and DNA at the ICE website.

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]]>Enjoy the Big Game.

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]]>If you haven’t stopped by, please check out these and many more.

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]]>The post Speeds in the Metric System appeared first on physicsthisweek.com.

]]>However, I was correcting labs the other day, and some of my students apparently believe that they were shooting small brass balls at speeds approaching 300 MPH!

Of course, they didn’t have this particular combination of number and units written down. They did find the speed to be 133 m/s. The problem is that students in the United States don’t have a feel for the metric system, so this number is essentially meaningless. We tend to not know speeds in the metric system.

I’m not currently the instructor for the lecture section of this particular class, so I haven’t shared the following with my lab group, but I will be doing so today. Maybe it will help you in your class.

Most people know that a reasonably fast “fastball” pitch is around 90 MPH, but only well trained athletes can throw a ball at this speed.

If we do a quick conversion, we can find the speed in meters per second. (I’m using 1 mile = 1600 m instead of 1609 m to help keep the math simple.)

\(90 MPH=90 \frac{miles}{hour}\times\frac{1600 m}{1 mile}\times\frac{1 hour}{3600 sec}\)

\(90 MPH=90 \times\frac{16 m}{36 sec}\)

\(90 MPH=90 \times\frac{4 m}{9 sec}\)

\(90 MPH=10 \times\frac{4 m}{sec}\)

\(90 MPH=40 \frac{m}{sec}\)

So a 90 MPH fastball is travelling at about 40 m/s.

I like this number because students have a “feel” for the number. It is too fast to drive on the highway. It takes a lot of effort to throw a ball this fast. No one would expect to shoot brass balls this fast in a crowded classroom.

The numbers are fairly easy to remember. The derivation isn’t too hard to reproduce if a student doesn’t quite remember it.

Do you have any good markers for other quantities people should have a feel for in the metric system?

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