Physics 173 Internet Question of the Week

The Questions

February 9 - February 13, 1998

Question #1:

"This physics class is really getting difficult. It seems like most problems involve four or five steps to complete, with each step requiring significant thought and fair deal of number-crunching. No two problems are alike so I am often stuck not knowing where to begin. We may only have three problems every night, but I have to spend at least 30 minutes just trying to understand how to start."
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been stuck merely looking at a problem for lengths of time without knowing how to start? Or have you ever solved a problem with confidence only to find out later that you made a costly mistake early in the process? I sure have. While it certainly is not a panacea, a solid grasp of the concepts provides you with a significant head-start when solving problems. Often times, conceptual difficulty is the main source of problem-solving difficulty. This week's Internet search question will target the topic of student conceptions (or more aptly put, student misconceptions). You will visit a site which you visited a few weeks ago, titled Comprehensive Conceptual Curriculum for Physics (also called C3P).

Find the site titled Comprehensive Conceptual Curriculum for Physics (also called C3P) using a major search engine. The site is based at the University of Dallas, the prinicpal investigator is Richard P. Olenick, and it is a common high school physics education site. This should be sufficient information to find the site using a keyword search. Once you find the C3P home page, click on the button titled Alternate Student Conceptions. A variety of student preconceptions are listed on the linked page. The list identifies the most common misconceptions believed by students of physics. Note: these are MISconceptions - wrong beliefs. (A word to the wise: this would be an excellent page to print and to keep available as a checklist as you proceed through the rest of the year. If you believe any of these ideas, then you will likely have difficulty.)

Once you have found the site, do the following:

  1. identify the URL (address) of the Alternate Student Conceptions page.
  2. describe the search path which you took to find the page (see example description).
  3. review the preconceptions for the Newton's Laws/Forces section and study the preconceptions listed under this heading. There are 12 misconceptions listed in this category. For misconceptions #6, 7, and 12, write a few sentences in which you state the preconception and describe a concrete example which illustrates why such a preconception is a false conception.


Question #2:

A 10-gram object is attached to a 200-gram air track glider by a light string. The 10-gram object is suspended over a pulley. The air track is turned on and the glider accelerates along the track. Calculate the acceleration of the glider and the distance it moves in 0.75 seconds. Finally, sketch a velocity-time graph to describe the glider's motion. (CAUTION: pay attention to units.) PSAYW


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Last Updated: February 6, 1998