Essential topics in physics

I asked my students at the end of the 2011-2012 school year what they thought was the most important physics concepts taught.  Here are some of their responses

Their choice


Newton’s Laws “fundamental to all things and is everywhere you look”
Radiation and Radioactivity better informed about what is dangerous and what isn’t
Conservation of Energy “People know there are limited resources but may not realize the significance of changing one energy form into another”
Basic Kinematics used in understanding motion
Momentum, Inertia, Relative Motion “If everyone had a working knowledge of those concepts the number of idiotic drivers on the road would decrease greatly”
Basic Forces “better understand some of the aspects of their daily life”
Newton’s 3 laws “they affect everyone… give everyone a greater understanding of the world around them”
Position/velocity/and acceleration “Most visible in people’s everyday lives.  This may get them thinking scientifically about other phenomenon”
Newton’s laws “Helps people predict the motion of objects in everyday situations”
Momentum or similar “People should know how things move, especially their car
Newton’s Laws “Improve safety” “Newton’s laws can be applied to many everyday things that we do”
Thermodynamics Integral to many things we take for granted in society