The word physics tends to evoke images of boring chalkboard equations, complex lab equipment, and piles of homework. But while the science of physics may seem daunting and unrelated to your daily life, understanding it can help you better navigate the world around you. These ten tips will show you how to make physics interesting, whether you’re in high school or starting your first year of college.
1) Use the words Energy, Force, and Mass in everyday conversation
Energy, force, and mass are three of the most important things in physics. Energy makes us move, force allows us to interact with our surroundings, and mass keeps us on earth. It is important that we understand these concepts in order to enjoy ourselves and have fun doing everyday activities. So how can we make sure energy is present in everyday conversations? Force? How about mass? To get people talking about physics in their daily lives you need only bring up some topic where physics applies. The next time you’re going out for dinner try ordering based on Newton’s laws of motion. That way, when your dinner arrives at your table you will know if it came from one place or another by looking at its speed and direction of travel!
2) Notice how things move
If you’re trying to learn physics, you might find that you feel bogged down. You may not understand why so many basic concepts in physics seem difficult. One way around all of these issues is to simply notice how things move around you. Notice how your house sways in an earthquake, or how your dog jumps when it sees a squirrel. By gaining a better understanding of movement, force, and gravity, you can better understand physics in general. Of course, making personal observations is only one approach – but it could be a good place for someone who wants to learn about physics but doesn’t know where else to start!
3) Look at Design
Many people think physics and design are unrelated, but that’s not true. If you look at design in a broader sense—including fields like graphic design and interior design—you’ll discover many applications for physics principles. Take color theory, for example, The hue we associate with a specific emotion (red stands for anger; green means go) is created by mixing different pigments in our eyes that reflect the light of certain wavelengths; it has nothing to do with how our minds react to those colors. Some common color-emotion pairings: Red/anger, green/go, blue/calmness. By applying the basic laws of physics, you can learn why these associations exist and how they can be leveraged in your professional life.
4) Observe Speed Limits
Driving faster than speed limits may seem like a way to shave time off your trip, but it can really increase your chances of getting a speeding ticket or crashing. The faster you drive, the less time you have to react in case something goes wrong. You’re also increasing your odds of being involved in an accident with other drivers who may not be driving as safely as you are. If you’re someone who drives too fast, try observing all posted speed limits from now on so that you can start making safer decisions on roadways and cutting down on expensive penalties and car repairs in the future.
5) Learn About Gases and Air Pressure
Air pressure is what allows us to breathe, but it’s also behind everything from airplanes and hydraulic lifts to weather and waves. You can test out some of these principles using a simple experiment with a balloon or by taking a trip to see your local meteorologist at work. The more you learn about how air pressure and other laws of physics affect our everyday lives, the less intimidating they become. And you might just find yourself enjoying physics more than ever!
6) Examine Slopes
When you look at a graph of a function that contains a slope, ask yourself what that means. What direction is increasing? Which way is steeper? Is it ever possible for two different lines to have the same slope or are they always going in opposite directions? Explore some of these questions by looking at graphs of lines with positive and negative slopes. Graphs can be deceiving, so always use your equations when trying to answer these questions!
7) Watch Circular Motion
One of my favorite ways to make physics more interesting is by demonstrating circular motion. By pushing an object around in a circle, you get some really unique effects: The object will tend to follow a circular path, either due to its natural inclination or because of friction (which is usually greatest when objects are moving slowest). This can make it difficult for small objects to follow a curved trajectory. To demonstrate circular motion, hold up a quarter between your thumb and forefinger and slowly spin your arm in circles while carefully keeping your hand steady. After several rotations, you’ll notice that one side of the coin is much higher than another side! This happens because that side has farther traveled than the other… but why?
8) Understand Simple Machines
Understanding basic machines can make your life easier. If you don’t know how a car engine works, you can’t troubleshoot problems when they arise or perform regular maintenance. The same goes for appliances, toys, and other items around your home. You don’t need to become an expert—just familiar enough with each machine so that you can identify its components and comprehend how it works. Before long, your knowledge will help you troubleshoot problems in a way that will save you time and money over time.
9) Play with Magnets
Fun, simple, and inexpensive: Magnets are a great way to get started exploring physics. Although they might be used as toys, they’re incredibly powerful devices that follow strict laws of science. As you play with magnets, you’ll begin to understand their behavior and how it changes based on environmental factors like temperature and magnetic fields. Learning about magnetism from hands-on experience is great for kids, but adults can learn just as much (if not more). Simply playing with magnets will inspire everyone’s imagination!
10) Think about Vibrations
Ever noticed how you often can’t tell that a car is vibrating until you look at it? The sense of touch is less sensitive than sight and hearing, so you can use that idea in your physics class. For example, if you’re teaching your students about pendulums, hand them a pendulum and ask them to guess whether it’s moving or not. The ones who say they can feel it are simply being fooled by visual signals that aren’t as accurate as their own sense of touch. This principle applies to all kinds of vibrations – and if your students understand these things better, they’ll be more engaged and active learners.
Students tend to feel physics is a particularly boring subject. Perhaps, more importantly, it can seem rather irrelevant to day-to-day life. But, physics is an important part of everyday life. I hope that after reading these 10 tips you’ll be able to become a real fan of physics! If you want me to go into even greater detail on any of these tips or want me to cover other topics feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you. I would also love your feedback so if there’s anything you think needs changing please let me know. Good luck with your studies!