2023 PICUP/OPTYCs Virtual Workshop on Spreadsheets for Kinematics

Using Spreadsheets in Introductory Mechanics Courses

Saturday, May 20, 2023; 12:00-3:00PM EDT

An online workshop to introduce faculty to a new, liberating, and innovative activities to include in introductory physics courses.

Workshop Scope

This workshop is a collaboration between PICUP and OPTYCs. (OPTYCs = The Organization for Physics at Two-Year Colleges). The purpose of the workshop is to introduce participants to several basic examples of using spreadsheets to introductory courses, the traditional "first stop" for introductory physics students. During this workshop, you'll be introduced to computational tools available in spreadsheets, and work on creating and/or modifying examples for your own use. Participants will also be provided with a brief introduction to the PICUP and OPTYCs communities, and encouraged to get plugged in for ongoing support in their pedagogical efforts.

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Who Should Attend

This workshop is for two-year any faculty who teach introductory physics courses at all levels, high school through college. Even if you have never before considered the possibility of having a computational exercise into an introductory course, this workshop is for you!


Saturday, May 20, 2023 (all times Eastern time zone)

12:00 - 12:30 PM Introduction, Agenda, PICUP and OPTYCs Communities
12:30 - 1:30 PM Building a spreadsheet simulation as a large group
1:30 - 1:40 PM Potty break
1:40 - 2:40 PM Extending the simulation in small groups
2:40 - 3:00 PM Large group discussion (benefits & challenges) and wrap up



This series of videos shows how to make use of some basic spreadsheet functionality to build computational models, and includes a review of the simple Euler Method for solving a first order differential equation in the context of solving Newton's 2nd Law. The series culminates with an implementation of a model of a Falling Sphere without air resistance. Any spreadsheet program can be used to follow along, and work through the content in these videos.

Building a Control Panel - Excel/LibreOffice

Building a Control Panel - Google Sheets

Basic Iterative Calculations and Building a Kinematic Problem Solver - Excel/LibreOffice

Basic Iterative Calculations and Building a Kinematic Problem Solver - Google Sheets

Review of Simple Euler Method

Falling Sphere without Air Resistance