Physics is a very curious and, at the same time, not as difficult subject as it seems at first glance. The main difficulties arise, as a rule, when solving problems. At the moment, quite a few different manuals have been written on this issue, the basic methods of solutions have been established, even step-by-step plans have been written, using which you can easily learn how to solve problems in physics. But with all this, a huge number of students have not been able to learn how to solve problems.
What is the secret of solving problems? It is very difficult to answer this question unambiguously; moreover, it cannot even be disclosed in a long article. However, we will try to look at the basic principles of solving problems in physics today.
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What difficulties students have
Let’s find out what kind of difficulties students have while doing assignments in physics. Most students easily cope with easy-level tasks in which they do not need to make much effort but just substitute numerical data in a physical formula. The solution of problems that are more complicated and in which the formula must be obtained by substitutions from other relations and formulas from other branches of physics, in practice, causes enormous difficulties.
For some types of problems, the solution is not easy to find. You need to know certain methods and techniques because standard methods do not apply to them. To solve them, you need to introduce additional conditions or get a certain number of mathematical equations and then use them to solve.
It seems to me that most of the readers of this article have repeatedly come across well-known approaches to solving problems. Starting to solve this or that problem, even the simplest ones, you first need to read its condition very carefully, try to understand from the very beginning what phenomenon is being discussed, try to imagine it, understand the essence. It will not be superfluous to discuss it with a person competent in this matter. Next, you need to determine the basic laws that will operate in the problem, and only then try to look for an answer to the question posed. Despite all this, students who know all the laws and formulas still have difficulties. What is the reason?
Why do students have difficulties?
After analyzing what guides a person who solves problems well and trying to highlight the main thing in the course of their reflections, we can come to a certain conclusion. In order to solve any problem, you need to be able to do only two things. You need to understand the physical meaning of the phenomenon described in the problem and correctly build a chain of mini-questions, answering which you can answer the main question of the problem.
When faced with a problem, first of all, you need to ask yourself the question, “What physical phenomenon is this problem talking about? Why is this happening?” Having asked themselves these questions, the solvers open a chain of sub-questions, the correct answers to which lead to the correct solution.
It so happens that when asking themselves these questions, the students ask them to themselves in the wrong sequence or simply do not have knowledge of physical phenomena, so they stumble on the first question, and the solution to the problem stops there. There is a stupor. That is why you need to combine two skills at once that allow you to succeed and find the right answer.
Well, you have already decided on the law that “works” in this specific task. It is worth noting that the unknown quantity that is required to be found in the task will often not be explicitly present in the mathematical notation of a physical phenomenon. This is where the main difficulty begins!
You should not stop asking yourself mini-questions at this stage, each next mini-question and the answer to it smoothly lead you to a solution. A logically built chain of interrelated questions and answers to them turns into a certain kind of “framework” of the problem, which is then expressed in formulas and linked together through physical quantities. Having solved the resulting system of mathematical equations, you can easily find the answer to the task.
After reading this article, you can argue that everything is so simple only in theory. But, without having elementary skills and not knowing these key rules and points, it will be very difficult to master the solution of problems in physics. And the fact that each of us used these principles in solving problems, not only physical but any, should not be concealed. After reading this article, you can already consciously apply the principles discussed.
But as they say, seeing is believing. Physics is no exception. We can talk for a long time about methods of solving problems in physics, but only constant practice will help to master problem-solving. You should always remember the application of the acquired knowledge in practice. It would help if you learned to ask yourself mini-questions, build logically connected chains of reasoning, form a framework for solving a problem, and, of course, analyze the result.