My research group was awarded a grant to explore how students engage with scientific practices in a introductory physics context. As part of that work, we are developing a new course that emphasizes core ideas of mechanics and scientific practices. Below is the start of that planning for this course, that will run next fall.

Check them out below and give me some feedback. Here’s where the inspiration for these goals came from.

## Core Ideas and Practices

### Ideas that are core to (modern) mechanics

- C1 – Macroscopic phenomena are the result of atomic interactions.
- C2 – Forces external to a system can change the system’s momentum.
- C3 – Work done on or by a system and heat exchanged with the system’s surroundings can change the system’s energy.
- C4 – Left to it’s own devices; a system will evolve to the most populated macro-state.

### Practices

- P1 – Developing and using models.
- P2 – Planning and carrying out investigations.
- P3 – Analyzing and interpreting data.
- P4 – Using mathematics and computational thinking.
- P5 – Constructing explanations.
- P6 – Engaging in argument from evidence.
- P7 – Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

## Learning Goals

### Interactions and Motion

- Identify when an interaction has taken place and determine what change has occurred such as changes in speed, velocity, state.
- Perform the following mathematical operations on (physical) vector quantities: vector addition/subtraction, magnitude/unit vector.
- Sketch vector quantities and perform graphical (physical) vector addition/subtraction.
- Compute displacement, change in velocity/momentum, average/instantaneous velocity and acceleration and linear momentum.
- Predict the motion of a single-particle system executing constant velocity or constant acceleration motion using appropriate representations (this includes verbal, graphical, diagrammatic, mathematical, and computational representations).
- Collect, analyze, and evaluate data to determine the type of motion and the properties of the motion of a single-particle system.

### The Momentum Principle

- Determine the net force acting on a single-particle system using a diagrammatic representation (free-body diagram) and by performing any necessary calculations.
- Explain the motion of single-particle systems using interactions (forces) as the basis for the explanation.
- Apply the momentum principle (; ) analytically to predict the motion or determine the properties of motion/net force acting on a single-particle system where the net force is a constant vector (e.g., due to the near Earth gravitational force).
- Apply the momentum principle (;) iteratively/computationally to predict the motion or determine the properties of motion/net force acting on a single-particle system where the net force is not constant (e.g., due to spring-like restoring forces or dissipative drag forces).
- Collect, analyze, and evaluate data to explain the motion of objects and the responsible interactions.
- Evaluate the applicability/limitations of models and the validity of predictions for different types of motion.

### The Fundamental Interactions

- Predict the motion of a system of gravitationally interacting objects analytically and computationally.
- Predict the motion of a system of electrically interacting objects.
- Evaluate the validity of predictions for the motion of gravitationally interacting objects.
- Generate free body diagrams for a system of multiple objects and identify the Newton’s 3
^{rd}Law force pairs in order to explain physical phenomena. - Explain physical phenomena involving multi-particle systems using conservation of linear momentum.
- Predict the motion for constituents of a multi-particle system, which includes predicting the motion of the center of mass (e.g., in systems where two particles collide elastically in one dimension).

### Contact Interactions

- Use the microscopic model of matter (ball & spring) to explain macroscopic phenomenon including tension, compression, speed of sound in materials, and friction.
- Use the microscopic model of matter (ball & spring) to predict macroscopic material properties including the Young’s modulus and the speed of sound of a material.
- Generate free-body diagrams for systems subject to tension, compression, and friction forces to explain and/or predict the motion of those systems.
- Collect, analyze, and evaluate data to determine the properties of materials and to evaluate when linear models for those materials become insufficient to explain the data (e.g., Young’s modulus).
- Use the microscopic model for gases (non-interacting particles) to explain phenomenon including buoyancy and pressure.
- Generate free-body diagrams for systems subject to buoyant forces or external pressures to explain and/or predict the motion of those systems.

### Rate of Change of Momentum

- Generate free body diagrams for single-particle systems where the momentum is not changing (statics & uniform motion) to explain the motion of the system and/or to predict various physical quantities associated with the system.
- Generate free body diagrams for single-particle systems where the momentum is changing (direction and/or magnitude) to explain the motion of the system and/or to predict various physical quantities associated with the system.
- Decompose the net force vector parallel and perpendicular to the direction of motion to explain how the momentum a single-particle system changes magnitude and direction and apply this decomposition to explain/predict phenomenon such as decreased/increased apparent weight, the motion of gravitationally interacting bodies, and wires snapped during motion.

### The Energy Principle

- Evaluate when using the low-speed kinetic energy formulation is valid.
- Determine the change in kinetic energy of or work done on/by a single-particle system.
- Explain the sign of the work on a single-particle system using verbal, mathematical, diagrammatic, and/or graphical representations.
- For single-particle systems where little or no heat is exchanged with the surroundings, use conservation of energy () to explain and/or predict the final state of the system (this includes choosing a system, and setting up initial and final states consistent with that system).
- For multi-particle systems where a change of rest energy occurs, use conservation of energy () to explain and/or predict the final state of the system.
- Compute the work done by non-constant forces, which are integrable and depend only on position (e.g., spring force).
- Using diagrammatic, graphical, and/or mathematical representations of gravitational (electrical) potential energy, explain what motion is possible under given or desired conditions.
- Explain under what conditions linear approximations to the gravitational potential energy are valid.
- For multi-particle systems where little or no heat is exchanged with the surroundings, use conservation of energy () to explain and/or predict the final state of the system (this includes accounting for the potential energy of each pair of interacting particles; gravitational PE).
- Analyze and describe the energy exchanges of gravitationally (electrically) interacting objects using a computer model.

### Internal Energy

- For multi-particle systems where little or no heat is exchanged with the surroundings, use conservation of energy () to explain and/or predict the final state of the system (this includes accounting for the potential energy of each pair of interacting particles; spring PE).
- For multi-particle systems with internal degrees of freedom, deformable states, and/or energy flow due to temperature differences, use conservation of energy () to explain and/or predict the final state of the system (this includes choosing an appropriate system, and accounting for energy, work, and heat exchanges consistent with that system).
- Use the microscopic model for gases (non-interacting particles) to explain phenomenon such as air resistance and spin-dependent forces.
- Predict the motion of systems that experience dissipative interactions computationally.
- Collect, analyze, and evaluate data to determine the flow of energy in a multi-particle system.
- For a multi-particle system, predict the motion of the constituent objects and analyze the exchanges of energy for the system using a computational model.

### Energy Quantization

- Use conservation of energy and appropriate diagrammatic/mathematical representations to explain and/or predict phenomenon such as electron excitation, photon emission, and photon absorption.
- Use diagrammatic representations to explain the effect of temperature on emission and absorption spectra.
- Use conservation of energy, the microscopic model of atoms (ball & spring model), and diagrammatic/mathematical representations to explain and/or predict vibrational energy levels.
- Use diagrammatic representations and the microscopic model of atoms to explain the broadening of emission lines due to rotational and vibrational levels within electronic levels.

### Multi-particle Systems

- For a multi-particle system, determine the center of mass, the momentum of the center of mass, and how the center of mass momentum is changing.
- For a multi-particle system, explain and/or predict the motion of the center of mass.
- For a multi-particle system, use conservation of energy () to explain and/or predict the final state of the system (this includes using rotational and vibrational kinetic energies as well as the moment of inertia for the particles and/or system).
- For a multi-particle and/or deformable system, use conservation of energy for the center of mass system () to explain and/or predict the final state of the center of mass.
- For a multi-particle and/or deformable system, use conservation of energy for the center of mass system () and the real system () to explain and/or predict the final state of the system.
- For a multi-particle system, predict the motion of the constituent objects as well as the center of mass, and analyze the exchanges of energy for the both the center of mass and real system using a computational model.

### Collisions

- Evaluate if two colliding objects can be modeled as point particles (a construct with no extent).
- For a system that can be modeled as two point particles, use conservation of energy and linear momentum to explain and/or predict the final state of the system after a one-dimensional collision has occurred.
- For a system that can be modeled as two point particles, use conservation of energy and linear momentum to explain and/or predict the final state of the system after a two-dimensional collision has occurred.
- Use the center of mass system to explain the motion before, during, and after the collision of two objects that can be modeled as point particles.
- Use conservation of energy and linear momentum to explain the Rutherford model of the atom.
- Collect, analyze, and evaluate data to determine the type of collision and the exchanges of energy occurring during a collision.
- Predict the motion and analyze the exchanges of energy for two colliding objects using a computational model.

### Angular Momentum

- For a single-particle system, determine the system’s translational angular momentum.
- For an extended or multi-particle system, determine the system’s translational, rotational, and total angular momentum.
- For a single-particle system, use the angular momentum principle (; ) to explain and/or predict the motion of the system (this includes defining a rotation point and using the torque about that point).
- Use the angular momentum principle to explain an object’s orbit.
- For a multi-particle or extended system, use the angular momentum principle (; ) to explain and/or predict the motion of the system.
- For a multi-particle or extended system, use the momentum principle (; ), energy conservation (), and the angular momentum principle (; ) to explain and/or predict the motion of the system.
- Use the quantization of angular momentum to explain the Bohr model of the atom.

### Entropy: Limits on the Possible

- Use the microscopic model of matter (spring & ball) and quantized harmonic oscillation to explain the microstates of a collection of atoms.
- Given a set of oscillators and amount of quanta (energy), count using mathematical and diagrammatic representations the number of macrostates and the number of microstates in a given macrostate (for large numbers of oscillators and quanta, use a computer to do so).
- Use the concepts of microstates and macrostates to explain the flow of thermal energy between two solid materials in contact and the idea of thermal equilibrium.
- For a system of two blocks in thermal contact, explain and/or predict the distribution of quanta at thermal equilibrium and use this to explain the second law of thermodynamics as well as the irreversibility of some physical processes.