Imagine you’re designing an ultrahigh-speed train that will travel the East Coast of the US. How quickly can it accelerate from a stop to full speed, and what’s the tightest-radius turn it could achieve while remaining comfortable for passengers? How long would the trip from Boston to Washington take, given those constraints and the distances, masses, and energy requirements? This kind of problem lets you teach core elements of kinematics—1D motion, accelerated motion, circular motion, energy conservation—and introduces the human factors and real-life considerations that arise in the solution of real-world problems. It requires both “exact” calculations and effective estimation skills—key skills needed in real-world employment. This pedagogical approach can be applied at various levels in the student experience and utilized as a scaffold on which a semester course can be built.
Activity DescriptionFirst-year physics problems and activities that introduce innovation and entrepreneurship concepts
- Improve understanding of basic physics concepts
- Convey that vary basic physics principles can be used to address feasibility questions of potential innovations
4 hours spread throughout the semester as topics are introduced
Students in a First-year, first semester physics course (calculus- or algebra-based)
Suggested context for implementation
Problems can be assigned as individual exercises, but are best worked in groups during class time.