Forces and Motion

Noticing and recording

Teaching Guidance for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

Two different words for two different processes

The first thing you need to do in developing physics is to bring a phenomenon into focus, separating it out from its background. So we need to notice a particular process or facet of the lived-in world. This typically involves non-specialist language, used in an everyday way, and will often involve pointing at things and other informal approaches.

Teacher: Notice the fringes here [points].

However, typically later, it might also involve some technical language, building on the students' understanding to bring some new facet to their attention.

Teacher: What do you notice about the velocity of the wind after an hour?

For both of these describing processes we'd suggest you reserve the verb notice.

Then you might decide to quantify the data:

Teacher: Let's record the displacement.

To do this you need to bring along the whole careful operationally defined apparatus of physical quantities.

We think that maintaining this distinction might help to make what's happening clearer to pupils as well as providing you with a platform to begin to make explicit how physicists seek reliable knowledge through measurement. (Making a measurement allows you to test the predictions of theory much more precisely, so that you have more chance of being wrong.)

appears in the relation F=ma a=dv/dt a=-(w^2)x
is used in analyses relating to Terminal Velocity
can be represented by Motion Graphs
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