This series of web pages, part of “From Stargazers to Starships,” describes Newton’s three laws of motion and the two concepts on which they are based, force and inertia. A lesson plan for instructors is also provided.
This applet simulates the motion of a charged particle in uniform electric and magnetic fields. The user can set the x,y, and z components of the electric field as well as the magnitude of the magnetic field, which is set to always point in the positive z direction. The user can also set the initial velocity of the charged particle. Then the applet displays the path of the charged particle, with instantaneous velocity and force vectors.
This page provides a set of context-rich physics problems relating to force and circular motion. Each context-rich problem is based on a real-world situation, and includes both information that is relevant to solving the problem and extraneous information. Students must identify the physics concepts necessary to solve each situation. Strategies for problem solving are not explicitly provided. Each problem is formulated so it is too difficult for one student to solve alone, yet not too difficult for a group to master.
This web page contains problems that supplement Chapter 4 on contact forces and the momentum principle, in the introductory textbook Matter and Interactions by Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood. Topics include tension, normal forces, uniform circular motion, tangential forces, and 2-D and 3-D ball-and-spring models. Modern physics is introduced as students calculate approximate length and stiffness of an interatomic bond in a simple cubic lattice. Each problem can be viewed separately, with solutions, or downloaded as a pdf file.
This lesson introduces students to gravity as a force and explores the role of gravity in falling. Elementary-school students typically do not understand gravity. They see the phenomenon of a falling body as natural with no need for further explanation. This lesson will help to correct misconceptions about gravity, such as thinking it is the air that exerts this force, or that the magnitude of the gravitational force increases with height above the surface of the Earth.
This interactive simulation helps the user to visualize the gravitational force that two objects exert on each other. It features two spherical objects whose masses can be changed by the user from 1-100 kg. It was designed to build understanding of how the gravitational force between two objects is affected by their masses and by the distance between them. Also included are teaching tips and lesson plans for use in high school and lower-level undergraduate physical science courses.