President’s Message

What’s your favorite topic in physics? I’ve heard that question before, usually from a student. I suspect that my students just want to get me to talk off-topic for a while. And sometimes I do – who can resist rambling on about physics? But really, what is your favorite topic in physics?
Is your favorite topic that many of us cover at the very beginning of introductory physics courses: kinematics? Kinematics is so easy to grasp because we’ve all thrown, rolled, and bounced balls, and we know what a speed limit means, even if we don ‘t initially know the difference between speed and velocity. Even if the algebra can get sticky for some students,
can tind find an an aha moment when they finally understand acceleration; or many sooner when than they the can say red whether ball; the or heavy when they blue ball know will the fall off the of, and roof
lighter meaning value in, determining the slope of a best-fit line. It’s great, too, when math
classes reinforce what we’ve been saying in physics class.
In kinematics, there are so many accessible kinesthetic activities that reinforce the concepts. One of my favorites is an early one: determining speed whether up, a slow bowling down, ball, or rolling remain at along a constant horizontal speed. My hallway students floor, have will to graph the data (and then look at it with an open mind) to be convinced that the bowling ball continues at constant velocity. Another favorite rolling activity is the competitive hit the cup'” horizontal projectile lab of a ball off a table and predicting where to put the cup so that the ball will land in it. Many groups can determine, from measuring the table height and the ball’s velocity at the end of the table, where the ball will land.
Seeing a slo-mo replay of the ball hitting the center of the cup is very satisfying
If you like the hands-on aspects of physics, maybe you like electrostatics and circuits, where there seems to be endless activities and labs.
Whether unit whether in Maybe a about so to look you it balloon you questions, class why you’re will forward re can new fall new another favorite hanging be trying to into the those to physics part one endlessly from balloon driest, reach is of topics. the ‘and the sticks digging usually amusing, students AP ceiling learning try to into to the in courses and where a the dreariest, time can or ins the (electrically to challenging Conceptual lead and part teaching IB, students to of outs Continued there the great neutral) of Physics problem.

Tony Mangiacapre

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