Many introductory physics courses begin with the teaching of motion and kinematics. This naturally leads to the use of constant acceleration equations to solve various problems involving common motions (free fall being a notable example). Students can sometimes get the impression that these equations are the only thing they need to remember in order to determine the motion of an object. Indeed students often have trouble understanding what the equations presented to them represent. It can also be difficult to impress upon the students the source of these mathematical tools, and how to distinguish the tools from the science behind them. Often students have difficulty connecting physics concepts to mathematical equations, and instead treat the math as a separate entity. It has been suggested that teaching computational tools and modeling in physics yields better student understanding of these ideas. It has also been suggested that exploring the link between the mathematical equations and the physics concepts behind them can improve students’ problem solving capabilities. The following activity was developed to attempt to introduce modeling concepts to students early on in an introductory course, and in a way that is simple to implement in any course structure.

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