Help Solving Physics Problems

Help Solving Physics Problems-57
As mentioned earlier, physics problems begin as word problems and terminate as mathematical exercises.

As mentioned earlier, physics problems begin as word problems and terminate as mathematical exercises.During the algebraic/mathematical part of the problem, the student must make substitution of known numerical information into a mathematical formula (and hopefully into the correct formula ).

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A good problem-solver will often construct a diagram of some form to assist in this critical visualization task.

The actual diagram will depend upon the topic which the problem pertains to.

They know through practice and through observation of other expert problem-solvers (such as their teacher) that there are likely some intermediate unknown quantities which will have to be calculated before finding the final unknown quantity.

By comparing the known information (which they have previously written down in an organized manner) to known mathematical formulae, they are able to determine the intermediate quantities which will allow them to subsequently determine the final quantity.

Physics problems begin as word problems and terminate as mathematical exercises.

Before the mathematics portion of a problem begins, a student must translate the written information into mathematical variables.The mathematical formula is written in the form of symbols which represent some physical quantity such as focal length, distance, acceleration or force.Before performing such substitutions, the student must first equate the numerical information contained in the verbal statement with the appropriate physical quantity.Nonetheless, anyone who puts effort into disciplining themselves to be successful at solving problems can learn how to be proficient at the task.A student who devotes some time and attention to the list below and makes an effort to personalize it into their own approach to problems will improve their problem-solving ability.It is the habit of a good problem-solver to carefully read the verbal statement and to combine the attention to units (meters, kilograms, Joules, etc.) with their understanding of the meaning of physical quantities in order to accurately extract the numerical information and equate it with the appropriate symbol.Furthermore, good problem-solvers will conduct this task by writing down the quantitative information with its unit and symbol in an organized fashion, often recording the values on their diagram.If the topic pertains to forces, a force diagram might be drawn.If the problem pertains to mirrors, a ray diagram or object-image diagram may be drawn.Many errors (and perhaps even most) can be traced back to this translation process.These errors are usually the result of a failure to visualize the physical situation described in the verbal statement of the problem or of a failure in missing some strategic information during the reading process.


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