Physics 163

Unit 2: Newton's Laws of Motion

Problem Set A

 

Overview:

Problem Set A targets your understanding of Newton's second law of motion and of the distinction between mass and weight. There are a few routine problems and several more complicated multi-step problems. The mathematical rigor of the problem set is not high; most student difficulties will lie in the area of conceptual misunderstandings. There are at least three skills needed to be successful on Problem Set A:

  1. An ability to manipulate the Fnet = m•a equation in order to solve for an unknown quantity. Additionally, a student will need to understand the meaning of net force as the vector sum of all individual forces acting upon an object.
  2. An ability to use the Fnet = m•a equation as a guide to thinking about how alterations in the mass of or net force acting upon an object will subsequently effect the acceleration of the object. Rather than using the equation as an algebraic recipe for problem-solving, one will have to use it to think about how a two-fold, three-fold or X-fold increase or decrease in one of the variables would effect the acceleration value.
  3. A strong conceptual understanding of the relationship and distinction between mass and weight. Mass is a quantity which is dependent upon the amount of matter present within an object; it is measured in kilograms and is independent of location. Weight, on the other hand, is the force of gravity which acts upon an object. Since gravitational forces vary with location, the weight of an object on the Earth's surface is different than its weight on the moon. Being a force, weight is expressed in the metric unit as Newtons. Every location in the universe is characterized by a gravitational constant represented by the symbol g (sometimes referred to as the acceleration of gravity). Weight (or Fgrav) and mass are related by the equation: Fgrav = m • g.

Success on Problem Set A is dependent on a student's mastery of these three skills. View Sample Problem Set.

 

Problem

Description

Audio Link
1

A routine, plug-and-chug style question

2

A routine, plug-and-chug style question

3

A routine, plug-and-chug style question

4

Using proportional reasoning and Newton's second law as a guide to thinking

5

Using proportional reasoning and Newton's second law as a guide to thinking

6

Using proportional reasoning and Newton's second law as a guide to thinking

7

Using proportional reasoning and Newton's second law as a guide to thinking

8

A routine, plug-and-chug style question

9

A routine, plug-and-chug style question

10

Ultimately, a plug-and-chug style question; but the challenge is to understand the mass-weight conceptual distinctions

11

Ultimately, a plug-and-chug style question; but the challenge is to understand the mass-weight conceptual distinctions

12

Ultimately, a plug-and-chug style question; but the challenge is to understand the mass-weight conceptual distinctions

13

Use of a force diagram and Newton's second law to determine acceleration; must know meaning of Fnet

14

Use of a force diagram and Newton's second law to determine acceleration; must know meaning of Fnet

15

The database creates a collection of T-F statements which may vary significantly from student to student.

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