Physics in the Math Curriculum

Tuesday, July 10

Linda VanGroll led a lecture/lab on determining the instantaneous velocity of a Hot Wheels car. She uses it as a physical introduction to the meaning of a derivative in her calculus class. The activity prompted some Hot Discussion about when one emphasizes pure math, and when ugly physical realities and significant figures must be recognized and dealt with.

John Arner led a lab showing how to determine the velocity of sound from resonances in an open pipe. It generated a nice linear graph which yielded the speed of sound to within a few percent.

There was interest by participants in following up on some of the musical/wave activities, and it is anticipated that we will do some studies of stringed, reed, and woodwind instruments.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under DMS-0940733 and DMS-1441467. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.