Physics I Worksheets

Chapter 1, titled "Cause and Effect", is about discovering simple mathematical patterns in the behavior of physical objects, and figuring out ways to describe them.

page 0 is sort of a placement test, intended to give the teacher a rough idea of the students' level of preparation.

On page 1 students investigate the behavior of simple pulleys. Discovering the “pulley principles” is easy; the challenging part is describing those discoveries clearly and concisely. Most confusion in high school physics is a direct result of sloppy language; clarity must be stressed right from the beginning.

On page 2 we begin to investigate the uncertainty of measurements by expressing them in “range” form. We also introduce conversion of units.

page 2b is an optional exercise in estimation and powers of ten. (The “b” pages are enrichment material for more advanced students.)

page 2R is an introduction to scientific notation. (The “R” pages are intended for students who need a little extra help.)

page 3 is a simple but important lab exercise about measuring the period and length of a pendulum.

On page 4 we investigate the causes of uncertainty and experimental error in the pendulum experiment. We also begin to figure out how to handle uncertainties in calculations. At this stage it is best to express measurements and the results of calculations in “range” form.

The Chapter 1 Review Sheet is an ongoing project to which we refer often. Definitions and discoveries should be recorded there for future reference.

On page 4R we go into more detail about calculating with quantities in range form.

On page 5 we introduce direct proportions, using the results of the pulley experiments.

On page 6 we learn about linear graphs, slopes, the distinction between weight and mass, and the role of gravity in their relation.

page 16R is a simple lab exercise to help students understand that the acceleration of an object depends on something else in addition to the total force acting on it.

page 7 is a simple lab exercise leading to the discovery of Hooke’s equation.

page 7R is a review of some basic tools from algebra and geometry.

page 8 is about recording motion with a ticker and paper tape. Although more sophisticated methods are now available, this is a very useful exercise for beginners; it should not be skipped.

On page 9 students analyze the data collected in the ticker-tape experiment to discover a pattern in the motion of a freely-falling object. Although more sophisticated methods are available and will be used later, students develop a deeper understanding by using the crude and simple methods first.

The graphing calculator page is for students and/or teachers with no experience using such devices. Naturally, it may appear outdated because of rapid evolution of graphing calculators. Whatever the latest technologies can do, I believe it is important for students to have some experience making graphs on paper by hand first.

page 9b is an important set of thinking exercises.

page 9R is about error bars. It is instructive to see how students change their interpretation of the graph after they learn that it describes the relation between radiation-induced mortality rates and radiation dosage.

page 10 is a set of thinking exercises about using direct proportions. The use of percentage language to describe changes in a quantity is also carefully introduced here. It is a big mistake to assume that students already understand percentage language.

page 11 is a lab exercise in which students measure the frequency of the tickers used in the falling-object experiment. Students also figure out how to estimate the uncertainties of those measurements and how to reduce those uncertainties. (That’s the important part of this lesson!)

On page 12 students use their measured ticker frequencies to convert their measured free-fall acceleration values into SI units. More importantly, they calculate the uncertainties of those results.

page 12R is an extra-help page for those who get confused on page 12.

page 13 is a set of thinking exercises to help students get used to their new discoveries about free-fall and about calculating with data that have uncertainties. "Significant" (and "bogus") digits are also introduced here.

page 14 contains more thinking exercises to clarify the concept of significant digits and also to discover the secret of determining the uncertainty of a product.

The First Quiz is an example of an honors-level quiz. A few days in advance I give students a “skill sheet” describing what they should know how to do. Although solutions to the problems are given here, I do not advise giving them to students. Instead, students should be encouraged and helped to correct their own mistakes for extra credit.

An example of a Second Quiz for less-advanced students is given here, with skill-sheet and solutions.

An example of a First September Test for honors-level students is given here, with skill-sheet and solutions. My tests always require students to write short answers in the answer boxes in the right-hand margin so that I can lay out ten or fifteen test papers on a table, place a meter stick on top of them to hold them in place, and quickly mark the answers right or wrong as I move across from left to right. That technique speeds up the grading process significantly.