Authors: P. Laws & H. Pfister
Last Modified: 6/2/2002 01:23:00 PM
PHILOSOPHY, POLICIES & PROCEDURES
Authors: P. Laws, H. Pfister
I hear, I forget
I see, I remember
I do, I understand
PHYSICS: FROM THE PRACTICAL TO THE PROFOUND
Physics is a science that attempts to unify elements of the natural world by means of observation, mathematics, and the use
of precise language. Using methods developed by physicists, we can describe many events that occur in our everyday lives.
The principles of physics provided a basis for most of the technologies that are an essential part of modern life. In this
sense, physics is
. Many laws developed by physicists, such as the law of conservation of energy, are of
tremendous practical importance. These same laws also help physicists understand the very tiny constituents of matter as
well as the motions of giant clusters of galaxies. Thus the study of physics helps us understand some fundamental
relationships between the matter in our surroundings and the evolution of the universe. In this sense physics is
You are about to begin your own exploration of the natural world using some of the concepts, tools, and methods
commonly employed by physical scientists. Thus, you are beginning what we hope will become a grand journey from the
practical to the profound that will continue long after you have completed introductory physics.
THE WORKSHOP PHYSICS PHILOSOPHY
In traditional science courses, attending lectures, reading a textbook, and solving textbook problems are the primary
learning activities. These activities are typically supplemented by a weekly laboratory session taught by an instructor other
than the lecturer. The emphasis in traditional courses is more on
you know than how you know.
Physics is fundamentally an experimental science. The theories, laws, and mathematical descriptions of the physical
universe that have been created during the past 3000 years are based on the experience and observations of our ancestors.
In Workshop Physics, the lecture and laboratory elements of the course are integrated. Thus, your understanding of physics
is enhanced by class discussions, as well as your own predictions, observations, and experiments. Your ability to perform
observations, take data, analyze results, and write reports will be enriched by the use of a personal computer. The
computer, when equipped with sensors and software, can be used for data collection and display, mathematical
calculations, graphing, drawing, the simulation of physical events, mathematical modeling, and word processing.
The use of direct experience, new computer tools, and active participation will enable you to have a much more extensive
learning experience. In addition to beginning to master an important body of knowledge and learning how to solve
traditional physics problems, you should be able to develop your reasoning ability and computer and laboratory skills to a
much greater extent than you would in ordinary introductory physics courses. In fact, in Workshop Physics your powers of