• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions! Dokkio, a new product from the PBworks team, integrates and organizes your Drive, Dropbox, Box, Slack and Gmail files. Sign up for free.


Telling the story

Page history last edited by Joe Redish 2 years, 3 months ago

Class Content I  >Modeling with mathematics  > Building your mathematical toolbelt







A critical element in understanding how equations (and the physics) works, is understanding mechanism -- how things happen. To do this, we need to consider each problem in physics as a kind of a story. Almost every problem has these elements:

  • components or objects (cast of characters)
  • interactions (relationships)
  • a time sequence (plot) 
  • causes and principles (message / moral)


Too often, students look at a problem and try to directly reach for an answer without thinking about what's happening in detail and what physical principles are governing the process. Learning to "tell the story" is a critical piece of learning to do any science. We'll be developing some specific tools to help you identify and focus on the components and interactions in a problem (system schema and free-body diagrams) and our use of multiple different time graphs will help you learn to specify a sequence and not miss important parts. 


We won't provide an example here, since learning to do this requires applying specific bits of physics and you may be reading this at the beginning of the class. We'll apply these ideas in many sample problems as we go through the class. A simple example may be found in page Reading the physics in a graph.


Joe Redish 7/4/17

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.