January 16, 2007

This is how not to do a math problem.




October 9, 2006

Posted by:  Alex Pavellas

This tip is mostly for physics students, but I suppose it applies to just about any science class. 

As you move along in the physics 1-5 series, you may be tempted to think that one physics class doesn’t have anything to do with another.  For example, you may not think that projectile motion has anything to do with electromagnetic waves.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  We see real life examples of electromagnetic energy being converted into mechanical energy every day.  Think about when you start your car in the morning.  Electrical energy from the battery gets converted into chemical energy via the spark plug igniting the air-fuel mixture.  The ignited fuel then creates enough energy to drive pistons back and forth and eventually push your car forward.  Every time someone starts a car, they are converting electrical energy to chemical energy to mechanical energy.  Ok, so you may be wondering by now what my actual tip is, so here goes:

Keep a running list from all of your physics classes of equivalent equations.   

Think about how many equations for Force you have learned:  F=ma, F=mvΔt, F=mv^2/r, F=mg, F=kq^2/r, and more.  All of these are equivalent, and can be used in many combinations in the same equation in any scenario.

So some good advice is to keep a running list of equations for Force, Energy, Power, and any other particular quantity that comes up in a physics or science class.



September 30, 2006

Posted by: Alex Pavellas

Welcome to the CLAS math and physics forum.  This is where you can find all kinds of helpful hints for students in any class at UCSB.  I encourage all students and CLAS tutors alike to post things that may be useful here.  If you would like a question, suggestion or observation posted here, please email me at with “Forum Post” written in the subject line.


I will get the ball rolling with a homework tip that I found useful while I was an electrical engineering student here.


Homework tip #1:

In order for homework to be worthwhile, you will want to be able to use it as a reference.  Make a copy of every homework assignment you do, and review every problem, especially the ones you have had trouble with. 


Note:  When I say review a problem, that is code for “do it again and see if you get the same answer.”  A good test of how well you know a subject is if you can still complete a problem successfully two or three weeks after it has been lectured on.