## The Management, July 2, 2024

Conceptual Physics is a phrase that has been popularized by Paul Hewitt's textbooks titled Conceptual Physics. Many schools now offer Conceptual Physics courses and many of these schools are reliant upon The Physics Classroom resources to support student learning. But we would argue that all courses are conceptual Physics courses in the sense that concepts and principles form the underlying foundation of all learning. It's just that many Physics courses that don't assume the name Conceptual Physics are more reliant upon the use of algebraic skills to probe relationships and patterns and to solve problems and to generate equations. For most teachers, a Conceptual Physics course is a course in which such algebra skills are not heavily relied upon. In some instances, algebra skills may not even be a requirement for success in the course.

In creating the plan for this Conceptual Physics class, we've attempted to honor the assumption that Conceptual Physics is not heavily reliant upon the use of algebra skills. That being said, we do use numbers. We do have students analyze data. We do have students look for relationships between quantities. We do have students predict how a numerical value of one quantity is changed if a related quantity is doubled. We do have students analyze a free-body diagram with numerical values of individual forces and calculate a net force and acceleration. So for us, Conceptual Physics is not a number-less math class. But it is a class that is significantly less reliant upon algebraic manipulation of equations and algebraic problem solving. In fact, our general rule of thumb is that if a math-comfortable Physics teacher can't answer a question in the head (without a calculator), then it doesn't belong in the Conceptual Physics course. Taking this approach makes the numerical part of the course more apporachable to students. And as we have found, the approach also increases the math-comfort and reduces the number-phobia of students in the course. One final point in the even that we are being misleading: this course design is a Conceptual Physics course and concepts are the basis of the course. We never feel a need to quickly rush to the numbers.

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