• Lessons for a lifetime

Successful people distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd by using an assortment of tools and strategies that make them more effective at whatever it is they are applying themselves too.

Long after the details of physics or chemistry have faded from memory you will still retain those approaches or 'habits' that you took with you out of high school. You will also find that learning new strategies is not difficult while at the same time un-learning bad ones is nearly impossible.

In most teacher preparation programs you are bombarded with what are typically called strategies. In reality, most of these are actually tactics used to implement the more general pedagogical strategies. Semantics aside, many of these are the difference between success and failure at achieving set goals. This section provides a clearing house for those tools and strategies I find useful. Most of them have applications far beyond the classroom. Good strategies for communications, project management, and time management are universally applicable. The can be used for a wide variety of applications from school, to sports and in the workplace.

  • Real World Analogies

We've all seen the schematic diagrams that come with electronic appliances or assembly instructions that come with almost anything you buy. These are both analogies to physicsal systems. They are 2D graphical representations of the real work.  They are stripped down to the essential information you need to solve the problem at hand; hook up your stereo, assemble that new bicycle.

  • Many a person's downfall

Many people struggle with physics because many classes are taught as one continuous series of word problems, an essential aspect of solving these problem is to properly 'visualize' what is going on. For virtually every application there are standards for how to diagram systems and problems. These standards have been time tested and are important tools to everyone concerned. If you do not already diagram your problems, you need to start. need to learn the accepted standards so that you may communicate clearly with others. Try some of these sites to see if you know how to diagram problems effectively.


    • Form of block diagram
    • Symbolic representation of simple machines
    • Force vectors drawn to a constant scale
    • All forces acting on an object should be show.

    GO here for examples tutorials etc.

  • Determining Net Force -
  • The Physics Classroom - FBD QUIZl
  • Free Body Diagram Builder - REALLY COOL PROJECT !!!



    • Form of Block diagram
    • Shows all forces acting on center of mass
    • Forces not acting through CofM shown with lever arm


    • Show components and interconnections
    • indicate direction of flow
    • can be used to calculate conditions at any positions in the circuit
    • used for all of the following

    • Decision trees
    • Used in DIGITAL microprocessor processor design
    • used for complex electromechanical systems
    • Used for describing procedures such as inspection or debugging
    • Used in industry to front-end simulation tools that can 'run' a software version of your design before building anything



Depending on the application, there is always an accepted means of graphically representing the key pieces of a real system. Knowing these provides the scientist, engineer, or programmer an efficient way of visualizing the problem at hand and communicating it to others.

  • Software makes it easy and productive

There are also many software packages that can be used to produce these drawing. Any general CAD software will do most of these. Special software for Schematics, logic and block diagrams include libraries and features such as reports like connection lists and also interface to other programs for analysis and other functions that are related to the same data.

By starting a plan or design from the end product (the top) and working backward you quickly eliminate wasted effort because if an action does not lead to the final product it would not be part of the planned. Think about  the different was you could apply this concept to different every-day tasks.

  • TOP-DOWN strategies have been used in industry for system/product design for several decades now. This approach facilitates progress by making it easier to assess progress and by making it difficult to get too far off on a tangent before corrections can be made. From the top is easier to see the essential and the wasteful. It makes it much easier to cut to the chase.

Copyright 2005 -  S. B. EglI