Beggs’ Brief: advice on honors physics

Tommy Beggs, Staff Writer

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Honors physics is a notoriously difficult class for South students. The concepts in physics are an entirely new way of thinking about certain concepts of math and science, which puts students outside of their comfort zones.

Here at The Optimist, we want to offer our best advice to help anyone through this rigorous course.

First, write out every variable given when faced with a problem. If you organize what you are given and what you need to find, then the equations that you can use will be far more clear. This 15 second detour will shed light on a problem that is difficult to conceptualize in your head.

Second, draw detailed pictures when taking notes. It is easy to get lost in trying to plug numbers into a formula without knowing which number is which. This simple little addition to your notes will help you visualize what is actually taking place with any given situation. The visual aid will help you determine which way vectors such as force, velocity, acceleration and more are acting, which is critical when plugging numbers into  formulas.

Third, don’t memorize problems from homework and then translate them to quiz or test questions directly. One word in the new problem can change what you have to do entirely. To overcome this, it is imperative that you know what is happening conceptually in a given question so that you can adjust your problem solving method accordingly.

Next, be sure to pay attention during labs. Labs are a tangible way to learn a concept. This is especially important when learning about electricity, light and heat because those are forms of energy that are difficult to visualize without experience. A deep understanding of lab projects will be more than helpful in solving test problems.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of staying on a problem that you are stuck on for more than a couple of minutes. If you have written out your variables, drawn a picture or force diagram, and it still doesn’t make sense, move on and come back to it. This basic test taking strategy is especially applicable to physics because everything relates to everything else in some way, so you can use conceptual information from other areas of the test or homework to better understand the method that you need to use.

If you are struggling with physics, then give these tips a try. They will hopefully make your experience in class much better!

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