NS 540/SC 525: Concepts in Physics I: Forces and Motion

Physics content: Focus on classical physics and the Newtonian concepts of rectilinear motion, conservation of momentum and conservation of energy.

Philosophy and History of Physics: A comparison of Newtonian and pre-Newtonian models of motion.

Physics Education Research: Introduction to students’ misconceptions research on kinematics and dynamics.

Course Schedule (.pdf)

Course Link

NS 540 Concepts in Physics I: Force and Motion

In-Class: Session 1: Describing motion

Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.7
Activities: Pre-Test, Motion worksheet; Lab activity – Position, Velocity, and Acceleration

Online: Session 2: Motion with constant acceleration

Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 2.3 – 2.8
Activities: Worksheets to go with the material posted on the course web site

Assignments due at session 3:

Worksheets for the at-home session (session 2)
WebAssign: Assignment 1

Reading Assignment

  • Toulmin, S. and Goodfield, J. (1962). The premature synthesis. In The  fabric of heavens: The development of astronomy and dynamics. (pp. 90 – 105) New York: Harper & Row.

  • Zeno’s paradox.

Upload your responses, on WebCT, to the on-line questions related to the Premature Synthesis by the third day after class. Following this there will be an on-line discussion that you should take part in.

In-Class: Session 3: Forces in 1-Dimension

Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 4.1 – 4.8; 4.10
Activities: Lab activity – Forces between Carts; Newton’s Laws; Free-body  diagrams
History/Philosophy Activities: Class discussion on reading ‘The premature synthesis’. Discussion of Zeno’s paradoxes and Aristotle’s response to this conceptual challenge to motion.

Online: Session 4: Motion in Two Dimensions

Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 1.5 – 1.9; Sections 3.1 – 3.3
Activities: Worksheets to go with the material posted on the course web site

Assignments due at session 5:

Worksheets for the at-home session (session 4)
WebAssign: Assignment 2

Reading Assignment

  • Galileo, G. (1959). Accelerated motion. (excerpts from Dialogues concerning two sciences). In Shamos, Morris (ed.) Great Experiments in Physics. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

  • Bostock, D. (1996). Introduction: Aristotle’s cosmology. In Aristotle. Physics. (pp. xv, xvii) Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Upload your responses, on WebCT, to the on-line questions related to the Galileo by the third day after class. Following this there will be an on-line discussion that you should take part in.

In-Class: Session 5: Projectile Motion

Test 1: One hour (covers sessions 1 – 4).
Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 3.5
Activities: Analyzing projectile motion; Monkey/hunter; Lab activity – Projectile Motion
History/Philosophy Activities: Group and class discussion on Galileo’s understanding of acceleration in his Dialogues. A comparison of Aristotle’s, Galileo’s and Newton’s understanding of force.

Online: Session 6: Forces in 2-Dimensions

Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 4.9; 4.11 – 4.13
Topics: Friction; Free-body diagrams; Applying Newton’s Second Law
Activities: Worksheets to go with the material posted on the course web site

Assignments due at session 7:

Worksheets for the at-home session (session 6)
WebAssign: Assignment 3

Reading Assignment

  • Toulmin, S. and Goodfield, J. (1962). The creation of mechanics. In The fabric of heavens: The development of astronomy and dynamics. New York: Harper & Row.

Upload your responses, on WebCT, to the on-line questions related to The Creation of Mechanics by the third day after class. Following this there will be an on-line discussion that you should take part in.

In-Class: Session 7: Applying Newton’s Second Law

Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 4.9; 4.11 – 4.13
Activities: Applying Newton’s Second Law
History/Philosophy Activities: Group and class discussion on projectile motion, contrasting Aristotle’s, Galileo’s and Newton’s accounts.

Online: Session 8: Beyond Force

Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Section 7.1; 6.1 – 6.4
Topics: Impulse; Work and Kinetic Energy
Activities: Worksheets to go with the material posted on the course web site

Assignments due at session 9:

Worksheets for the at-home session (session 8)
WebAssign: Assignment 4

Reading Assignment

  • Halloun, I. A. and Hestenes, D. (1985). Common sense concepts about motion. Am. J. Phys, 53, 1056 – 1065.

  • Clement, J. (1982). Students’ preconceptions in introductory mechanics. Am. J. Phys., 50, 66 – 71.

In-Class: Session 9:

Momentum Conservation
Test 2: One hour (covers sessions 5 – 8).
Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Section 7.2 – 7.6
Activities: Momentum conservation; Lab activity – Collisions.
Science Education Research Activity: overview; class discussion on the assigned reading, misconceptions.

In-Class: Session 10:

Energy
Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 6.5 – 6.8
Activities: Worksheets to go with the material posted on the course web site

Assignments due at session 11:

Worksheets for the at-home session (session 10)
WebAssign: Assignment 5

Reading Assignment

Among your groups, divide up the papers below to read and discuss at the next session.

On motion in 1-D (these are short and related):

  • Trowbridge, D.E. & McDermott, L.C. (1980). Investigation of student understanding of the concept of velocity in one dimension, Am. J. Phys,. 48( 12),1020–1028.

  • McDermott, L.C., Rosenquist, M.L. & van Zee, E.H. (1987). Student difficulties in connecting graphs and physics: Examples from kinematics. Am. J. Phys., 55 (6), 503 – 513.

  • Rosenquist, M.L. & McDermott, L.C. (1987). A conceptual approach to teaching kinematics. Am. J. Phys., 55 (5) 407 – 415.

On other misconceptions in mechanics:

  • McDermott, L.C., Shaffer, P.S. and Somers, M.D. (1994). Research as a guide for teaching introductory mechanics: An illustration in the context of the Atwood’s Machine, Am. J. Phys., 62 (1), 46 – 55.

  • McCloskey, M. (1983). Intuitive Physics. Sci. Am., 248 (4), 122 – 130.

In-Class: Session 11:

Energy Conservation
Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Section 6.10
Activities: Springs, Hooke’s Law, Elastic Potential Energy; Energy Conservation
Science Education Research Activity: Jigsaw presentation on the papers; Work with your group planning culminating projects.

Test 3, a take-home test, handed out (covers sessions 9 12)

Online: Session 12:

Combining Momentum and Energy
Sections from Cutnell & Johnson: Sections 7.3, 7.6
Topics: Ballistic pendulum-type situations; Comparing analysis methods

Assignments due at session 13:

Worksheets for the at-home session (session 12)
Test 3: take-home test.
Project presentations
Written report on your project

In-Class: Session 13:

Presentations
Science Education Research Activity: Project presentations.
Course evaluations.
Bibliography

Selections from primary sources

Aristotle (1989). Book II. (excerpts from Physics). In Matthews, M. (Ed.) The scientific background to modern science. Selected readings. (pp. 5 – 26). Indianapolis: Hackett.

Galileo, G. (1959) Accelerated motion. (excerpts from Dialogues concerning two sciences). In Shamos, M. (Ed.) Great Experiments in Physics. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Newton, I. (1959).  The laws of motion (excerpts from the Principia). In Shamos, M. (ed.) Great Experiments in Physics. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Selections from secondary sources

Bostock, D. (1996). Introduction: Aristotle’s cosmology. In Aristotle. Physics. (pp. xv, xvii) Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Toulmin, S. and Goodfield, J. (1962) The premature synthesis (Chap. 3); The creation of mechanics (Chap. 8). In The  fabric of heavens: the development of astronomy and dynamics. (pp. 90 – 105; 210 - 227).New York: Harper & Row.

Selections from Physics Education Research Literature

Trowbridge, D.E. & McDermott, L.C. (1980). Investigation of student understanding of the concept of velocity in one dimension, Am. J. Phys., 48 (12), 1020–1028.

McDermott, L.C., Rosenquist, M.L. & van Zee, E.H. (1987). Student difficulties in connecting graphs and physics: Examples from kinematics. Am. J. Phys., 55, 503 – 513.

Rosenquist, M.L. & McDermott, L.C. (1987). A conceptual approach to teaching kinematics. Am. J. Phys., 55 (5) 407 – 415.

McDermott, L.C., Shaffer, P.S. and Somers, M.D. (1994). Research as a guide for teaching introductory mechanics: An illustration in the context of the Atwood’s Machine, Am. J. Phys., 62 (1), 46 – 55.

McCloskey, M. (1983). Intuitive Physics. Sci. Am., 248 (4), 122-130.

Halloun, I. A. and Hestenes, D. (1985). Common sense concepts about motion. Am. J. Phys., 53, 1056 – 1065.

Clement, J. (1982). Students’ preconceptions in introductory mechanics. Am. J. Phys, 50, 66 – 71.