Lesson 6: Manipulating Equations
Manipulating equations is probably one of the most important skills to master in a high school physics
course.
•
Although it is based on familiar (and fairly simple) math concepts,
it is still a stumbling block for most new physics students.
•
Manipulating an equation means that you rearrange the equation so
that the unknown you are trying to calculate is on its own on one
side of the equation.
•
Later in the course it will also give you the power to combine
formulas (which is necessary) to solve more complicated
problems.
•
Learning how to manipulate formulas now (while the formulas are
still easy ones!) will pay off later.
At all times remember two basic rules from math...
1. To move something to the other side, just do the opposite
math operation to it.
2. If you do it to one side, do it to the other.
Example 1:
The basic formula for calculating the velocity of an object is
v = d / t
, where "v" is the
velocity, "d" is the displacement, and "t" is the time. This formula is great "asis" if we are going to
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 Spring '09
 Knott
 Physics, Addition, Division, Multiplication

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