Academic journal article Science Scope

Playing with Forces and Motion

Academic journal article Science Scope

Playing with Forces and Motion

Article excerpt

"My powers are ordinary. Only my application brings me success."--Isaac Newton 

Imagine a world where the math you need to solve a problem does not exist. Isaac Newton lived in such a world but did not let it deter him. Rather, he discovered what we call calculus (independently of Gottfried Leibniz), a discovery driven by his need to explain the workings of gravitation and motion. The world is fortunate that Newton survived his premature birth weight of 3 pounds in the year 1642. We are also grateful that Newton failed at farming, given his obvious gifts for the physical sciences. His penchant for observing, questioning, and explaining is present in his many accomplishments. A scholar with numerous interests, Newton's contributions extend far beyond his three simply stated laws of motion. In addition to physics, Newton dabbled in astronomy, chemistry, theology, and mathematics.

Newton's laws play a foundational role in our students' lives. They govern every day activities such as catching a ball, slamming a locker shut, and sharpening a pencil. Perhaps, because forces and motion are central to our lives, it is easy for students to harbor misconstructions as a result of observations made in daily life. Unfortunately, these misconstructions can lead to inaccurate conclusions that can be difficult to dispel. …

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