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The Shapes of Physics
The Physics Teacher
  • Tom Greenslade, Kenyon College
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I have used many ploys to start a course in introductory physics, but one of the more interesting ones was to spend 20 minutes describing some of the curves and shapes that we would encounter in our year together. The students saw parabolas, catenaries, hyperbolas, cycloids, circles, ellipses, and helices, and were shown examples, either live or on slides, of these shapes. The world of physics is three-dimensional, and students need to see what curves and trajectories span it. Once they see these shapes in nature, they look at the world around them in fresh ways.
Citation Information
“The Shapes of Physics”, The Physics Teacher, 51, 524-527 (2013)