Acting It Out

I will always cherish my high school physics classes. Mr. Plopyls was funny, well-respected, organized, and amazed me with his ability to communicate complex ideas with great simplicity. Although understanding scientific principles feels taxing for me, my knowledge base great enough that I earned college credit by passing my AP exam.

On the AP test, I couldn’t remember the formula for momentum. Years later, I realized that its formula actually made a lot of sense. Momentum is “mass times velocity,” or how much of an object there is multiplied by how fast it is going (with respect to the direction the object is moving). One could reasonably argue that I was missing the knowledge target of simply memorizing this formula, but I would’ve remembered it better having taken the time to understand the reasoning behind the formula

An article from Scientific American makes me wonder whether I could have studied this topic better at home by physically embodying momentum, let’s say by testing out collisions among differently weighted toy cars, or playing with Newton ball tricks, and describing what I saw with formulas.


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