# Help Me! Question About Tensors and Projections

I need some help. I am working hard to find ways to bring more geometry into introductory calculus-based physics (and conceptual physics as well). By geometry, I mean specifically the geometry associated with vectors and tensors, and the information encoded therein. Yes, I said tensors. I have been heavily influenced by these notes by Kip […]

# Ideas for Next Fall

This week wraps up another academic year and I’m already mulling over some ideas for doing things differently in calculus-based physics next fall. This post is just a brain dump of those ideas. As always, feedback is welcome. Okay. My students have totally bought into standards based grading. I struggle with my standards and whether […]

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# Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics XXIII

This question came to me while I was planning for this semester’s introductory calculus-based e&m course (using Matter & Interactions of course). My overall desire and plan is to move away from the traditional number crunching type of problems, where all students really do is manipulate coordinate components of vectors or perhaps vector magnitudes, all […]

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# A Diversity Experiment

Today I decided to try something new in my introductory astronomy class. I wanted to get a quick insight into what students think about diversity while in the safe haven of the classroom. Our classroom activities have “checkpoints” interspersed throughout so students can, quite literally, have a meeting of the minds in the center of […]

# Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics XXII

This question was prompted by the treatment of energy concepts in traditional introductory textbooks. Most such treatments tend to share an error in reasoning when it comes to applying energy principles to systems consisting of more than one particle. I may need to come back and edit the question so that it more accurately articulates […]

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# At what point do we say, “It’s my fault students aren’t learning?”

It’s the time of a year when I’m required to fill out a self evaluation in preparation for a formal performance evaluation by my department chair. These things always bother me for several reasons. The fact that we have no one on campus who is an expert at faculty evaluation is right there on the […]

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# Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics XXI

Okay this may not be the most interesting thing to think about, but it’s a question I’ve been asked on several occasions. For that reason alone, I started thinking about it. I also think it’s another situation where coordinate-free vector manipulation can simplify otherwise messy questions and problems. So, here’s the question. Give three different […]

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# Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics XX

This post is inspired by the October 2015 AstroNotes in The Physics Teacher. I have sometimes introduced vectors into my introductory astronomy course and students were able to do most of the things described below. We never discussed angular momentum or the Laplace-Runge-Lenz vector, but the other quantities were familiar. I was not permitted in […]

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# Thoughts on Framing Math in Introductory Physics

This is basically a brain dump. I don’t expect it to be perfectly coherent. Since the summer AAPT meeting in College Park, I’ve been thinking a lot about how mathematics is approached in introductory physics. James Gates pointed out something I’d not realized before. If we consider mathematics a language, then in physics, we don’t speak the […]

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# Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics XIX

This is a very quick post addressing a frequently asked conceptual question. Maybe it my heightened awareness, but I’ve also seen this question asked a lot on various physics Q&A sites lately. It’s a question that gets to the heart of how vectors are often defined, loosely and incorrectly, in introductory physics. Here’s the question. […]

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