Unfortunately the return of Daylight Savings Time has my students a little lethargic this Monday. I warmed them up by showing them a clip from Spongebob Squarepants. Specifically I had them draw a free body diagram of Squidward (the creature underneath the mattress). It was my way of getting them ready for the third law lab that we are doing on Friday.
Specifically the most common misconception that students have is that the force on Squidward should be called “the weight of the mattress”. This is actually a normal force and understanding the role of Newton’s Third Law is key in really understanding this system.
We also worked on a bit of an algorithmic procedure of solving force problems, because I am concerned that my students are reading every problem, panicking and not seeing common ground.
I can only hope that the recipe does not become a substitute for thought as well, so I will have to design problems that force them to see beyond recipes. Perhaps some more labs and challenge problems will do the trick…