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Teaching Newton's Laws with the iPod Touch in Conceptual Physics

Physics Teacher Volume 49, Number 4, ISSN 0031-921X


One of the greatest challenges in teaching physics is helping students achieve a conceptual understanding of Newton's laws. I find that students fresh from middle school can sometimes recite the laws verbatim ("An object in motion stays in motion..." and "For every action..."), but they rarely demonstrate a working knowledge of how to apply them to observable phenomena. As a firm believer in inquiry-based teaching methods, I like to develop activities where students can experiment and construct understandings based on relevant personal experiences. Consequently, I am always looking for exciting new technologies that can readily demonstrate how physics affects everyday things. In a conceptual physics class designed for ninth-graders, I created a structured activity where students applied Newton's laws to a series of free applications downloaded on iPod Touches. The laws had been introduced during the prior class session with textual descriptions and graphical representations. The course is offered as part of the Enlace Latino Collegiate Society, a weekend enrichment program for middle and high school students in the Bronx. The majority of students had limited or no prior exposure to physics concepts, and many attended high schools where physics was not offered at all. (Contains 5 figures and 1 table.)


Kelly, A.M. (2011). Teaching Newton's Laws with the iPod Touch in Conceptual Physics. Physics Teacher, 49(4), 202-205. Retrieved October 6, 2022 from .

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