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The Physics Teacher
written by Edward F. Redish
Learning to create, use, and evaluate models is a central element of becoming a scientist. In physics, we often begin an analysis of a complicated system with highly simplified or toy models. In introductory physics classes, we tend to use them without comment or motivation. Some students infer that physics is irrelevant to their understanding of the real world and are discouraged from making the cognitive blend of physics concepts with math symbology essential for making sense of physics. In this paper, I discuss the often-hidden barriers that make it difficult for our students to accept and understand the value of toy models and suggest instructional approaches that can help.

This paper is the fourth in a series of five articles on how to help students develop the scientific reasoning skills required to effectively use mathematics in science. The author and publisher are temporarily offering this article for free access.

See Related Materials for links to the additional articles that comprise this series: Collection Overview, plus articles addressing dimensional analysis, estimation, anchor equations, and functional dependence.
The Physics Teacher: Volume 59, Issue 9, Pages 683-688
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Access Rights:
Limited free access
This article has been opened temporarily for free access. The Physics Teacher is otherwise available by subscription only.
Restriction:
© 2021 American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
DOI:
10.1119/5.0025840
NSF Numbers:
DUE-1504366
DUE-1624478
Keywords:
constructivism, epistemology, knowledge construction, mathematics reasoning, modeling instruction, physical models, physics reasoning, simplified models
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created May 18, 2023 by Sam McKagan
Record Updated:
June 22, 2023 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 19, 2021
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Record Link
AIP Format
E. Redish, , Phys. Teach. 59 (9), 683 (2021), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0025840).
AJP/PRST-PER
E. Redish, Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models, Phys. Teach. 59 (9), 683 (2021), <https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0025840>.
APA Format
Redish, E. (2021, November 19). Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models. Phys. Teach., 59(9), 683-688. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0025840
Chicago Format
Redish, Edward F.. "Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models." Phys. Teach. 59, no. 9, (November 19, 2021): 683-688, https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0025840 (accessed 23 June 2024).
MLA Format
Redish, Edward F.. "Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models." Phys. Teach. 59.9 (2021): 683-688. 23 June 2024 <https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0025840>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Edward F. Redish", Title = {Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models}, Journal = {Phys. Teach.}, Volume = {59}, Number = {9}, Pages = {683-688}, Month = {November}, Year = {2021} }
Refer Export Format

%A Edward F. Redish %T Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models %J Phys. Teach. %V 59 %N 9 %D November 19, 2021 %P 683-688 %U https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0025840 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Redish, Edward F. %D November 19, 2021 %T Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models %J Phys. Teach. %V 59 %N 9 %P 683-688 %8 November 19, 2021 %U https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0025840


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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The AJP/PRST-PER presented is based on the AIP Style with the addition of journal article titles and conference proceeding article titles.

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Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models:

Accompanies Using Math in Physics: Overview

A link to the overview article by E.F. Redish that explains how all items in this collection are related to the topic, "Using Math in Physics".

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis

A link to the first in this series of five articles: "Using Math in Physics 1: Dimensional Analysis".

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Using Math in Physics: 2. Estimation

A link to the second in this series of five articles: "Using Math in Physics 2: Estimation".

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Using Math in Physics: 3. Anchor equations

A link to the third in this series of five articles: "Using Math in Physics 3: Anchor Equations".

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Using Math in Physics: 5. Functional dependence

A link to the fifth in this series of five articles, "Using Math in Physics 5: Functional Dependence".

relation by Caroline Hall

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