__Process for Problem Solving__

Below
is a summary of the suggested steps when solving a standard end-of-the-chapter
textbook problem. These won't apply
exactly to standard AP 1 problems which are often conceptual, but the ideas may
still be helpful.

1.
Read and understand the problem. This
may seem obvious, but it’s a good idea take a minute to thoroughly visualize
what's happening. If you can't, reread
the situation until you can.

2.
Draw a picture of what's happening. Even if a diagram is there, drawing-out
what is happening and labeling all of the given values will reinforce the sense
of what’s happening. In the same
diagram, write down the goal and draw a box around it.

3. Make a list of the stages of motion. For each stage, define the system and decide
what model or principle can best be applied (Newton’s second law, work-energy
theorem, impulse-momentum theorem, etc.)

4. Write-out the full model(s) or principle(s)
that will be used. Write the plan that
will be used to find the solution.

5. Follow the plan. Write-out or draw all aspects of the solution
(equations, free-body-diagrams, graphs, motion maps, energy pie charts,
kinematics boxes). If a given method
or model doesn't work (say F = ma doesn't seem to get the answer), try another
model (like work-energy). If stuck in
this step, try solving a simpler version of the given problem. Let this suggest the solution to the original
problem.

6.
Check the solution. If the solution is
numeric, you can check that the value is reasonable. If the solution is algebraic, you can check
that the units on both sides of the equation are equal (dimensional
analysis). You can also check if the
result makes sense if zero is inserted for a given variable or check that it
makes sense if one value increases, a second value correspondingly increases or
decreases.

7.
Review the problem. How did you know
what models or principles to apply? Are
there other methods of solution?

__Principles
or models__

1.
Motion with constant acceleration: a =

2.
Newton’s second law of motion: The acceleration of a system is equal to the net
external force on the system divided by the inertial mass of the system.

3.
Work-energy theorem: The net external work on a system is equal to the change
in energy of the system.

4.
Impulse-momentum theorem: The net external impulse on a system is equal to the
change in momentum of the system.