Physics itself is one of the subjects that most students fear or even hate worst. This is because you cannot do without math in physics. So many physicists want to make understanding easier by introducing physics conceptually (thanks to Mr. Paul Hewitt and his book Conceptual Physics) there are still things that can be better understood with mathematical representations. Hence, we cannot afford to have physics without Math.
But you do not have to worry too much, there are ways you can solve physics problems without getting a huge headache.
These steps do not guarantee you will always get the correct answer, but you will definitely realize that solving Physics problems can be easier than you think (Most of my students said it):
1.Read and understand the problem.
In any scientific problem, it is important to avoid “jumping to conclusions”. “Read the problem very carefully, starting from the first word to the last punctuation mark. Some problems can be very complicated, so you must read and understand each word.
If you think you are unsure of your interpretation of the problem after reading, you can always re-read and take mental notes of keywords or key phrases that would tell you what the problem is really about
2 Organize the information provided
Once you have read the problem once or twice, you can now go back and collect the values given in the problem. Be sure to identify the correct values for each given quantity. Some problems name the values right away as “given a mass of 5 kg,” while others need to become familiar with the quantities that go away. to identify as “a 500 N man” giving the man’s weight
It is often helpful to list them in an organized way. You may choose to write it on a table or list them neatly.
3.Draw the problem.
Free diagrams are examples of illustrations of physics problems. However, you can’t use this for all problems. It would be helpful if you have your own path or illustrate problems to better understand. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be good at drawing (my elephant always looks like a pig, so I label it “ELEPHANT !!!” for my class). Stick figures, shapes, and symbols will do as long as you know what it means and it’s a clear representation of the problem.
- Check your units.
One way to help identify if you have correct values for the quantities is by looking at the units. You should be familiar with the standard units of quantities such as N for force, kg for mass, m / s for speed / velocity, m / s2 for acceleration, and many other units. This could lessen the mistakes you might make when solving the problem and can even be your guide to see if you are on the right track.
- Remember your formula.
Remember the formulas related to the given problem and write them down. Choose one that is the most appropriate to wear. How?
From the list of quantities given, find a formula that gives you what you need for the problem but is not too short. An ideal formula would lack a single amount. If there aren’t any, learn how to combine helpful formulas to get to what you need. But be very careful not to interchange formulas with different concepts
- Apply the math.
Substitute the values correctly and do the math.
If so. a simple problem that you can do manually, be very careful when evaluating expressions. Make sure each decimal point is placed correctly and that each answer is clearly written. A “4” might look like a “9” when typed in a hurry.
Manually solving simple problems is a great help to exercise your mind and keep it in shape.
If it is a more complex number or very small or large, use the calculator carefully. Some wrong answers are due to incorrect calculator entries! Most of my previous students’ mistakes were due to incorrectly entering values into their calculators, from a single missing decimal point/digit to an incorrect exponent. your work, run a second resolution run, and check to make sure you’re doing it right
- Go back and check everything
Once you are done with everything, go back to the beginning, from the problem and check each step Look for care inconsistencies in units, substitutions, or manipulation of formulas, as well as evaluation of values. It is always beneficial to make sure you did everything right that a line of “I should have checked” afterward.
I have presented what I suggested to my students, there is one thing left for them to be very good at solving Physics problems: be confident.