937 Science Education Methods Involving the Use of Vector Arrows in Gravitational and Coriolis Force Problems

Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
A. E. Tabor-Morris, Georgian Court Univ., Lakewood, NJ

Handout (1.2 MB)

Introductory science students often confuse concepts of acceleration and velocity. It can be helpful to remind students that the acceleration of gravity is constant and that “the force of gravity never turns off”. The Coriolis force, which affects meteorological high and low formation and their advection direction, can also be troubling to students because, while gravity has an identifiable consistently present object as its source of force (planet Earth), the Coriolis force is due to the geometry (which is non-Euclidian and rotating) on Earth or other planet. Dimensional analysis can assist students with the mathematics, but also suggested here is something as simple as using different types of vector arrows for velocity (single-shafted arrow) and acceleration (double-shafted arrow) to highlight the differences between these concepts. A thick double-shafted arrow is suggested to designate force in preparing the force diagram for solving. The double shaft also can serve to remind advanced students of the second derivative nature of acceleration and force. The alternative use of different colored arrows is also possible but has the downside that color selection is not universal. Hence it is suggested that the use of different colors could be reserved for distinguishing different components in the system, but not to differentiate between velocity, acceleration and force which are different types of vectors.
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