Welcome to the Course: “Gravity, The Basics”
*** What you will learn ***
“Gravity, The Basics” teaches the elementary notions you need to understand and apply Newtonian gravity:
_ Solving 1-dimensional motion problems (Linear Kinematics),
_ Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation,
_ What are fields,
_ Gravitational fields and gravitational field strength,
_ Gravitational field lines,
_ Circular motion: angular velocity, centripetal acceleration and force, how to apply these notions to solve questions in physics,
_ Orbital motion and the third law of Kepler.
*** Who is this course for? ***
This course is suited for high school students studying Physics (from grade 10 to 12). The content of this course complies with Chapter 6 of the IB Physics Program and Topics 6.2 and 11 of the A-Level Curriculum.
It contains many exercises in all sections as well as exam inspired questions (especially section 6). This course is a very valuable tool for preparing any upcoming physics exam that may have questions related to gravity.
This course is also suited as a refresher for early university students that wish to solidify their understanding on Newtonian gravity.
And of course, any person interested in physics and in how the world works will also enjoy the voyage: I often invite my students on adventures beyond the academic…
*** Structure of the course ***
“Gravity, The Basics” is structured in 6 sections. All sections contain lessons, applied examples, exercises with detailed correction, fun science facts and anecdotes, and many tips and tricks on how to approach questions in Physics. The last section is a little different: it is composed of a general summary and the Gravity Quiz!
Section 1, “Linear Motion”, presents a step-by-step technique to solve all linear motion problems when the acceleration is constant. This class is not essential for this course, yet the resolution technique presented is an extra “weapon” for students in feeling confident when facing a physics problem that involves motion.
If you are familiar with linear motion, the SUVAT technique and are comfortable solving questions, you can skip this section. Otherwise, I recommend you view it and work on the exercises: it is truly a good investment for your study of Physics in general. Note that this section can be taken independently from the course.
Section 2, “Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation” is usually the first notion about gravity that is taught to students. If you are familiar with this, and can solve direct application questions, you can also skip this section. If not, I strongly recommend you go through this section and the exercises before moving forward with the course: Indeed, this section can be seen as the doorway to the deeper dive that follows.
Section 3, “Gravitational Fields” is the core of this course. This section teaches first what is a field, and then dives into a detailed description of gravitational fields, gravitational field strength and gravitational field lines. It is packed with many exercises aimed at making students comfortable with these notions.
Section 4: “Circular Motion” prepares for the section on orbital motion. You are presented with a detailed explanation of fundamental quantities that occur in circular motion (angles, angular velocity, centripetal acceleration and forces). As for section 1, the information provided in this section applies to many other areas of Physics (mechanics, electricity, magnetism, atomic, nuclear and particle physics).
Please note that section 4 can also be taken independently from the course.
Section 5, “Orbital Motion” discusses the motion of bodies in circular orbits around a massive object: This section blends notions taught in section 3 (gravitational fields) with notions presented in section 4 (circular motion). It also discusses the 3rd law of Kepler, so useful for astronomers!
Section 6: “Wrapping-up and Gravity Quiz”. You have viewed all 5 sections, and worked on the exercises? Then, it is time for the exam!
After a 5-minute summary of all notions presented in “Gravity, The Basics”, 12 exam-like questions are presented and corrected in detail.
*** Teaching style ***
My name is Edouard Reny, by training, I am a PhD in Solid State Chemistry and an engineer in Material Sciences. I have taught at university during my academic years. After this, during my industrial years, I have trained chemical engineers in electrochemical analytical techniques.
Since 2013, I am an independent teacher in Physics. I have supported about 5 dozen IB Physics, A-Level and AP students, one-on-one or in small groups. And, for now, 100% have passed their Physics exam!
The physics curricula that are taught today in high schools are truly fascinating, much more than 30 years ago when I myself was a high school student. Still, I do observe a problem… I see it during the first sessions with a new student: a lack of enthusiasm and no fascination whatsoever for the marvels they are being shown… For high school students, Physics appears just like another painful topic to handle…
After a few months with me, the students start to feel the fascination, and get inspired by it. Many of my students, that took a tutor (me) just to help them pass this “horrible” topic, got high marks at exams. And guess what, a large fraction of these are now graduating in an area of Physics at University! They got hooked!
My teaching style is focused on inspiring students, because when you are hooked, study becomes a hobby, and when an activity becomes a hobby, it becomes also painless to get good at it: Consequence: the marks go up significantly.
So expect me using equations yes, and a lot of them, as tools to discuss their true meaning. These equations will allow us to travel and observe the diamonds of our cosmos: For example, in this course we will embark for a voyage towards the underground oceans of Enceladus (a moon of Saturn), above the steaming volcanoes of Io (a moon of Jupiter), within the icy worlds of the Kuiper Belt at the edge of the Solar System, and even nearby an exploding star.
This is how I teach Physics, by making you fascinated by the marvels of our Universe.
*** What does this course NOT contain – and potential future developments ***
This course focuses on the basic notions of gravitation only, and follows standard level high school curricula. It does not introduce more advanced notions like gravitational potential energy or gravitational potentials, which can be taught in the higher levels of some of these curricula.
The course also remains within the boundaries of Newtonian Gravity: It does not mention nor describe any notions relative to Einstein’s General Relativity.
This course was a lot of work to put together (around 200-300 hours): if it meets success and upon request of students, I will consider developing a similar course format for Gravitational Potentials (“Gravity, Advanced”) and eventually a course for General Relativity. If I do this, these will also conform with High School curricula.
*** Enjoy the Voyage! ***
Now, it’s time to tighten your seat-belt, and let’s get started!