A Note to Instructors

Like many of the resources at The Physics Classroom website, The Calculator Pad was designed with students in mind. The intent of the resource was to combine contextually-relevant problems with answers and audio-guided solutions in an effort to improve students' problem-solving abilities. This section of the website is comparable to the end-of-chapter problems commonly found in physics textbooks. Each question is accompanied by an answer and an audio file which guides the students through the solution process while emphasizing the habits of an effective problem-solver. This combination of questions, answers and solutions makes The Calculator Pad an ideal resource for students who need help, guided practice and extra practice.

The Physics Classroom typically has many ambitious projects lined up for the future, none of which will likely be completed until the summer months offer the time to complete them. One of the projects planned for the future is to develop some sort of means by which students obtain problems with randomly-generated and unique numerical information and still have a means to check their unique answers. Such a tool naturally allows teachers to assign problems, students to check problems and an audio file which provides guidance into the solution process. Exactly what form this tool is likely to have is undecided. Once developed, information about its availability will be posted here.

In the meantime, many physics teachers will likely ask for permission to use some of the problems in classroom handouts, worksheets, quizzes and tests. Teachers are granted permission and even encouraged to use selected problems with their own students. If a collection of problems are included on the same handout, it is suggested that you include the URL of The Calculator Pad on the handout in order to encourage students to take advantage of the tool in the manner in which it was intended. Providing the URL to students in this manner is more of a service to the students than it is a service to The Physics Classroom website.

One practice that is encouraged is to provide students with a handout that has the same or similar problems with slightly varied numerical information and then directing students to The Calculator Pad to assist them in the completion of the handout. Since their numbers on the handout are different than those on the pages at The Calculator Pad, the answers at The Calculator Pad will do them little good. Yet because problems are similar at The Calculator Pad, the use of the audio files will provide them with assistance if they are having difficulty. As such, they can do the problem at The Calculator Pad with feedback and assistance and then transfer the process to a second problem which is similar to the one they have practiced.

A final comment pertains to a limitation on the use of The Calculator Pad. Like most the resources at The Physics Classroom website, permission is never granted to download files and upload them to other servers or website. Permission is never granted to distribute the problems to other teachers in either an electronic of printed format. Other than the suggested distribution methods described above, The Physics Classroom website should remain the one and only source for the distribution of these problems, answers and solutions.

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