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Problems with physics

  1. Oct 5, 2005 #1
    Hi. I am having a lot of problems understanding physics. I am in AP Physics C right now and I’m failing. It’s like I will never understand the material. What can I do? Has anyone had this problem before? I feel like I’m the only one. I’ve had many tutors but nothing has helped. I’m just really upset and I don’t know what to do. Is there something else I can do to somehow understand how to do the problems? Is there some way I can find out what exactly I’m having problems with because no one seems to know. Have any of you had this problem before? :cry:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2005 #2
    Try as many problems as you can and have someone work out the problems so you can follow the tought process. If you see it done enough it might just click, or at least you'll have a slightly easier time with the problems
     
  4. Oct 5, 2005 #3

    ZapperZ

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    Based on my previous experience at teaching physics, when a student is having problems with physics, more often than not, it is the MATHEMATICS that they are stuck with. They lack the language to understand the mathematical formulation of the physics ideas, and the tools to deal with physics problems.

    Zz.
     
  5. Oct 5, 2005 #4
    That's exactly what my physics teacher said at first. We had a test the other day and I got pretty much all of the multiple choice questions wrong and the free response questions right. One of the free response questions for example gave an equation and said "find the impulse" so I took the integral of the equation and I showed all of my work (the other free response problems required integrals and taking the derivative). After my teacher saw my work on the problems he realized that the math was not the problem. I will get an A (a B at the least) in math (I'm dual enrolled in Calculus II and III) but in physics I will probably get a D or F. I can do the math.
     
  6. Oct 5, 2005 #5

    ZapperZ

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    Then you may be the few who doesn't know what tools go with which job.

    Trying to figure out the source of the problem is as important as learning the subject matter. Without a lengthy review of your work and problems, it is almost impossible to diagnose the source. Your teacher should be the first person you approach to do this.

    Zz.
     
  7. Oct 5, 2005 #6
    Like ZapperZ said, it's impossible to know exactly what your problems are, but in my very limited experience, when people DO get stuck on the physics, not the math, it's because they are rushing through everything. Instead of thinking of the big picture, they jump straight to simplifications and conclusions. BIG PICTURE. Kinematics? Fluid motion? Heat Engine? THEN pick out the most broad formula for the given problem. Usually you can just derive or cancel things out from there. Jumping straight into pre-derived formulas is what always got me wrong answers. I kept picking the wrong formulas.

    PL
     
  8. Oct 6, 2005 #7

    Tide

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    I don't mean to relegate mathematics to second class status - it IS very important in physics - but I think understanding the PHYSICS should come first! If you truly understand Newton's Laws, force, torque, acceleration, energy and so on then you will pretty much know what the results will be in a given situation. The mathematical part will help in obtaining specifics and, sometimes, reveal gaps in your "analysis" of the physics.
     
  9. Oct 6, 2005 #8
    If you don't understand the math behind the physics, you won't get the physics.

    You can understand that the more force you're applying to an object, the more it will accelerate, but if you're applying the force at an angle and you have no idea what a vector is, you will not get the right answer. Simple as that.

    PL
     
  10. Oct 6, 2005 #9

    Tide

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    If you don't know the physics then you can't know if your answer is "right" - unless we're just interested in checking the one in the "back of the book."
     
  11. Oct 6, 2005 #10
    The mathematical understanding needs to come first. In order to understand physics, you need to understand the language it is written in. If your problems are not with the mathematics, then perhaps seeking out an additional, widely regarded for clarity, textbook is your next option.

    Or perhaps you could go to extra help and just discuss the theory behind what the mathematics is describing with your teacher. If you understand the mathematics, you should have fairly easy time understanding the physics.

    Good luck.
     
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