Many students take physics classes as a requirement for their bachelor’s degree. That’s one of the reasons the Introductory Physics course is so big. In general, both algebra-based and calculus-based physics may be available at your college or university.

Algebra-based physics can be a good place to start as it tries to take the challenge of calculus out of the discussion. The concepts covered in a single quarter or semester are mainly based on shared experiences that everyone has in everyday life in the 21st century.

The key here is to become familiar with the vocabulary of general physics and the process by which scientists think. The physics lab that complements the lecture helps to make the equations meaningful.

A popular lab/lecture involves projectile motion. Here, the notions of time and distance are explored for different objects of different weights thrown through the air at different angles. The experiment is simple: launch an object at an angle, see where it lands, and compare it to the equations describing projectile motion. Here the actual concept is simple as everyone understands projectile motion. The challenge is tracking the details and relating the data with two-dimensional motion. There are easily definable time and distance changes that relate directly to the projectile equations of motion.

In this case, there is practically no difference between learning algebra-based physics and learning calculus-based physics.

Calculus-based physics offers an opportunity to show how our attempt to understand our environment has fueled a development of mathematics to explain the relationships. Most of the students in this sequence will take introductory physics and calculus at the same time. Trust me, the courses complement each other really well and lay the foundation for the type of study that is included in advanced courses in almost every area of applied science. Increasing engagement with how physicists apply and derive scientific ideas and how mathematicians derive mathematical relationships helps to keep the spirit of discovery alive.

While there’s no one-to-one comparison between your physics class and your math class at any given point, you do need the practice and exposure. Often a physics teacher will derive the equations from basic relationships, and where there is calculus there is almost always algebra. In fact, you’ll quickly find that physics classes will make you a stronger calculus student because calculus vocabulary has a physical meaning.

Algebra-based or calculus-based, whichever works best for you, will help you see the importance of discovery in the scientific process. Along the way, many of the great thinkers are introduced and their contributions mentioned. You’ll find that many of the units we use every day are recognitions of people who have helped define and articulate our understanding of the natural world.

I wish you every success on your way.

Thanks to Robert Zuniga | #Physics #Algebra #calculus #based #approaches

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