The Calculator Pad

Physics could be described as an active sport. Like most subjects in math and science, you can't learn it by being passive. Physics demands participation ... and practice. Like any sport, to be good in physics you must practice.

Physics can also be described as a quantitative science. Concepts like speed, acceleration, force, momentum and energy can be described in words; but they can also be described by mathematical formulas. Many concepts in physics are mathematical quantities which can be measured, calculated and quantitatively related to other measurable quantities. While physics is considerably more than mathematics, it is most certainly understood more fully when the mathematics associated with the concepts is explored and understood.

In most physics courses, the convergence of concepts and mathematics is practiced in the form of solving physics word problems. These problems describe a physical situation, providing some numerical information which describes the situation, and ask the student to determine some unknown quantity. The assumption of such exercises is that students will be forced to draw upon their conceptual knowledge of physics principles and to reflect upon their understanding of the mathematical relationships between quantities in order to solve for the unknown quantity.

The Calculator Pad represents the effort of The Physics Classroom website to provide students with practice solving physics word problems. Approximately 30 problems of varying degree of difficulty are provided for each topic. Answers can be easily viewed by clicking a button. And an audio file (mp3 format) is provided which explains the solution to the problem in great detail. With problems, answers and solutions, physics students can learn to practice good habits of solving physics word problems and improve their understanding of quantitative relationships in physics. Students who are using this resource for the first time should take the time to read the Note to Students. Physics teachers who are interested in this resource should take the time to read the Note to Teachers.