# Blogs

## Physics Blogs

Sometimes the same procedure shows up in two different contexts. This is especially common in the fields of math and science, as science employs in real-world application many of the techniques we learn in their abstract form in math class. For some reason, the principle as shown in a high-school science class is often much harder for students to understand than it was in the math class. (My personal theory is that science teachers are applying the concept in a way that changes how they explain how it works, and they probably have not collaborated with the student's math teacher to ensure they're reinforcing the same terminology.) Last week one of my students ran into this phenomenon in her own work; a concept from last year's math class showed up in her physics class. To help her understand it, we went back to the original math concept and talked about proportions. The science homework she was struggling with was the old chestnut about unit conversions; rows and rows of fractions... read more

I have successfully completed 15 graduate Physics courses, completing a B.S. in Physics only a year ago. As an undergraduate I found the topic very enlightening and intriguing because it aims to answer all of the underlying why questions that arise in nature. I really enjoyed Newtonian Physics (classical mechanics) the most during my undergraduate career because so many real world examples are used and explained (an easy stated example: dropping cargo from an airplane at a constant velocity from a designated height and needing it to land in a particular spot).    While I was in the Air Force I was a ground RADAR technician and found, in practicality, the importance of physics. While unknowing to me then, the very job I had was engineered by the top physicist of that time. The RADAR I worked on was old but ground breaking when it was first commissioned. I joined when I was 20 (so I had a couple of years of schooling completed prior to entering) and had not yet formally... read more

Once upon a time, I was an engineer. And in that environment, engineers would think it was insane to depend on a calculation, a computer program, or a sketch - without checking the result, and if possible, checking it in the simplest way possible.   Fast forward to now. You have calculating power in your hand that was beyond what I could do with a long computer program when I first entered an engineering career. Your problem is, you depend on it. The teacher gives you a problem and what do you do? You reach for the calculator.   So look: the human brain is infinitely more powerful than the best calculator you can put in your hand. Learn to reach for it first instead. Use it to set up your work, to help you understand why you're doing it, to help you recall how you did what you did, and to find out what it takes to do things right. THEN grab the calculator. Otherwise, the thing the calculator does best is give you the wrong answer fast. Nearly all... read more

I've noticed in tutoring college physics students that the biggest reason they aren't doing well is not because they don't understand the material, but rather because they make small mistakes when setting up and solving the problems. I've come up with a list of steps to follow when solving physics problems to help students stay organized and make fewer mistakes.   Solving Physics Problems 1. Knowns     a. Write down the given numbers including units     b. Make any unit conversions necessary 2. Unknowns     a. Write down what the problem is asking you to find     b. Draw a picture if applicable to better understand the problem 3. Equations     a. Write down any equations that include the knowns and unknowns     b. Make sure you know what each variable is and the units for each variable in each equation 4. Plan     a. Decide which equations to use  ... read more

In math or science we come across terms such as inverse proportion and direct proportion. When two variables are directly proportional an increase in one variable causes an increase in the other variable. When two variables are inversely proportional an increase in one variable causes a decrease in the other variable.    Inverse Proportion: To illustrate inverse proportionality, I will use a common physics problem. Two golf balls are thrown down from a tall building at the same time and one ball has twice the velocity of the other ball. Which ball hits the ground first assuming only velocity is different?  We already know that velocity is approximately equal to distance / time. Let the velocity of the slower ball be v. Assuming only the velocity of the two balls is different, we can say approximately v = d / t. We can eliminate wind force, atmospheric force, and force of gravity since both balls will be affected equally. If you increase v,... read more

Hello all!   I am super excited to sign-up for The New MCAT.  I can't tutor on the new exam without taking it, so I will be on a journey to make sure that the exam is everything the committee says it is.   I will be posting different material, study questions and strategies that I find useful for preparing for this exam.  I hope this will help you to, and I will give feedback on the different subject problem areas that I see in my current students.   I have exactly 4 months until the exam.  This is a good amount of time - planning is crucial for the exam - because there are 4 sections on the new MCAT.  Here they are:   Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills   There is a small video to describe The New MCAT, and... read more

Oh, voila!  I feel so smart and timely.  Today I invented a new word  — “incognition” — which rose to my mind when I considered those things I most enjoy teaching, as well as the teasing comments my students make when asked to describe our class. I felt pleased that my new word evokes (1) the idea of intuition, which in scientific thinking refers not to the sort of unconscious — unconscientious — flashes of information which come to us unbidden, usually from a set of perceptions we don’t notice, or from a logical association we follow without being aware of it — but refers instead to a set of skills which must be deliberately, meticulously, self-critically developed; … (2) metacognition, which I try very hard to teach my students; and … (3) a feeling of playfulness, the joy I feel when my students gleefully tease me about how when they signed up for this class, they thought they were going to study biology and, instead, they are learning about things like... read more

Hi all,     So my experiment with the waiting list was a mixed success.  I had some students remain interested when I contacted them as availability popped up later in the semester, but it was about 20% of the people. It was still a useful way to remain visible to students so I'm going to continue it.   I have room this Fall for another student or two, so please contact me ASAP to avoid the waiting list! I'll have the most available time slots for the least amount of traveling.  This means that students who want to meet in Manhattan will have the easiest time / find my schedule the most flexible.  I've started doing a little tutoring in Python programming, so if anybody is interested in working on that at a discounted rate please contact me!  Cheers! Chris

Alegbra: http://www.nysedregents.org/algebraone/   Algebra 2/Trigonometry: http://www.nysedregents.org/a2trig/home.html   Geometry: http://www.nysedregents.org/geometrycc/   Math A, Math B, Integrated Algebra, Other Math: http://www.nysedregents.org/regents_math.html   Chemistry: http://www.nysedregents.org/Chemistry/   Earth Science: http://www.nysedregents.org/EarthScience/   Physics: http://www.nysedregents.org/Physics/

Physics students make up the lion's share of my current teaching efforts here at Wyzant. I've stuck mostly to AP and the first-year undergraduate level of physics, specifically in the non-calculus-based version of physics.   For non-calc physics, the mathematical skills required are surprisingly low. Since students at that level are rarely (if ever) asked to derive or define equations, the only math they need to succeed is the most basic form of algebra - we're talking about adding and subtracting variables from both sides of the equation! Without exception, every physics student I teach knows how to do at least that much. So why do they need our help?   My theory is that as a tutor, physics is best taught as a puzzle game. My students' classroom teachers provide the rules of the game at the beginning of every unit, and those rules are nothing more than the various equations and constants relating to whatever topic the students are learning at the time.   I... read more

Hello, my name is Aaron.Zhang. I was born and raised in north of China. However, wonderful Miami is my home now. Now I am studying in Florid International University ( FIU ) for my master degree. I love Miami's sunshine, beach and enthusiastic people.No wonder more and more Mandarin speaking tourists, investors and students are visiting here. Experience and background: I graduated in Chongqing University of China in 2013, and then worked in New Oriental in Beijing, a listed education company, as a senior BD staff. My major in university is Marine Engineering. When I was an undergraduate, I tutored K-12 students for physics, math, swimming ,English and Chinese history. Besides, I also tutored Mandarin and make friends with students from all over the world through my university's international student club. Now I tutored Mandarin Chinese, Chinese history and international relationship , Swimming and Physics. Mandarin : My Mandarin pronunciation is very standard... read more

I am a High School Science Teacher and we deal with a lot of word problems that contain many variables that could fit into many different equations. Here is how I break down the content step by step for my students.      Physics Problem A box is accelerating across a frictionless surface. It is being pushed with 75 newtons of force and the has a mass of 10 kilograms. What is the magnitude of the box's acceleration?   1) You want to identify and label all variables presented to you in the problem.      Ex: F = 75 N, m = 10 kg   2) Identify and Label the Variable the question is asking you to find.      Ex: a = ?   3) List possible known equations that have the variable you need to solve for.      Ex: a = v/t            F = ma   4) Choose the equation that has variables that are known from the problem.  ... read more

Labs associated with the pre-med sciences are also required, and the difficulty of these labs varies depending on which school you go to.  The most frequent lament by college students is that their labs and lab reports command an unreasonably large chunk of their time, despite being only worth 1 credit.  Most college courses are 3 credits, meaning they meet for three hours of class per week; but labs, usually take anywhere from 3-6 hours per week, and ultimately do not carry much weight in terms of your overall grade in being just one credit.  You would think that the work required to succeed in labs is adjusted proportionally, but it's not. Most labs have weekly reports and a final paper/project at the end of the semester, right before finals begin.  Last year, I spent every Sunday just working on weekly physics lab reports.  I did well, but consistently lost a full day that I could have used towards other work.  That's the dilemma, though.  You... read more

When is it a good time to look for a tutor?  Some students wait until a big exam comes up, and do lots of cramming at the last minute.  While that strategy may work for some, others may need to take a different approach.    What if you need to take a mathematics or physics course and you know you will have difficulties?  Maybe the course is really advanced or it is not one of your best subjects.  The best approach would be to work with a tutor on a regular basis throughout the semester.  They can help you with any misunderstandings that may come up along the way, and help prevent you from falling behind in the course.  This also ensures that you get the individual attention that you may need.

As very little, we were told that earth has gravity, and we are not flying away from the earth because the gravitational force holds us from flying away. The gravitational force is defined as Fg= GMm/(r^2). You might have learned this formula in a non-calculus based general physics class. Also, you might have learned the other formula relating to gravitational potential energy. The gravitational potential energy is given as U=-GMm/r. How exactly is the gravitational potential energy related to the gravitational force formula. The following is the mathematical derivation for gravitational potential energy from gravitational force.   Assumption: we move an object away from the center of earth, and we define the U=0 when r=infinity  dU=-dW=-Fdr*cos(theta)  du= -Fgdr*cos(theta)   since we are simply moving the object away from the earth's center theta=180 degrees, the angle between gravitational force and the dr   du=Fgds Uf-Ui=Int(ri... read more

Hi Everyone! As the school year kicks into full swing, its important to monitor your child's progress. Some schools are great at doing this, and some... not so much. It is up to you as parents (or students!) to take control of your student's education and make sure they are at least on track, but hopefully excelling. That's all for now, take care!

I recommend Wolfram Alpha to all of my math and physics students, and to many others. It calls itself a Computational Knowledge Engine which doesn't do too good a job of describing itself but it is very useful as i'll explain below. It does quite a number of things that aren't comparable to other search engines. Wolfram Alpha First, one of its central components is based on Mathematica which is a mathematical programming language. Because of this it can solve problems in algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, matrices and many other subjects. This is largely what I use it for; as in if I want to quickly solve or check a problem. If i can't remember exactly what the half angle integration of tangent is, or if a problem results in an answer to large for my calculator to display.   Second, it has large data sets available to it. These vary from current and historical weather data, i.e. what is the current temperature/chance of rain and what was the temperature... read more

Hi there and welcome to my blog! This is my first post, with hopefully many to follow.   In my undergraduate years, I learned about a very curious summation discovered by the great Ramanujan. Since then, whenever a student tells me that they hate mathematics and that it is stupid, I show this to them and they almost always see math in a new and enthusiastic light. Here, I will explain the series to you, and hope that it brings you as much excitement and curiousity as it first brought me.   Consider the series 1+2+3+4+5+6+... The series is simple, we simply add two to one, then add three, then four, then 5, and keep going forever. The series is called a "monotonic series", meaning that it is ever increasing. This should be intuitive, since if we look at the first few terms, we have   1 = 1 1 + 2 = 3 1 + 2 + 3 = 6 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10   If we continue the process, this... read more