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written by Nathaniel Lasry
published by the Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development
consultant: Bruce Tracy
Available Languages: English, French
This item is an experiential learning activity for beginning physics students relating to force interactions, inertia in motion, and inelastic collision.  In this scenario, students take the role of an insurance investigator who must determine fault in a T-bone collision involving a moving car and a stationary truck.  With few facts verifiable, students must determine the car's velocity given the extent of the seat belt laceration injuries.  

This resource includes a printable student manual and links to background information on the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) instructional method.  Registered users may also access a teacher's guide.  
SEE RELATED ITEMS ON THIS PAGE for a link to the full collection of PBL exercises by the same authors.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Linear Momentum
= Conservation of Linear Momentum
- Newton's First Law
= Inertia in Motion
- Newton's Second Law
= Interacting Objects
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Cooperative Learning
= Problem Solving
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Best practice
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Problem/Problem Set
= Student Guide
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- text/html
- application/pdf
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Access Rights:
Free access with registration and
Limited free access
Free for non-commerical use with attribution; teacher guide available only with registration.
© 2007 Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development,
CCDMD, Law of Inertia, Newton's First Law, PBL, Problem based learning, collision, context rich, experiential learning, force interactions, inertia, momentum, problem solving
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created January 12, 2009 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
September 19, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 31, 2008
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 9-12: 4E/H1. Although the various forms of energy appear very different, each can be measured in a way that makes it possible to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another. Whenever the amount of energy in one place diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.

12. Habits of Mind

12B. Computation and Estimation
  • 9-12: 12B/H2. Find answers to real-world problems by substituting numerical values in simple algebraic formulas and check the answer by reviewing the steps of the calculation and by judging whether the answer is reasonable.
  • 9-12: 12B/H3. Make up and write out simple algorithms for solving real-world problems that take several steps.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

High School — Number and Quantity (9-12)

Quantities? (9-12)
  • N-Q.1 Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.
Vector and Matrix Quantities (9-12)
  • N-VM.1 (+) Recognize vector quantities as having both magnitude and direction. Represent vector quantities by directed line segments, and use appropriate symbols for vectors and their magnitudes (e.g., v, |v|, ||v||, v).

High School — Algebra (9-12)

Creating Equations? (9-12)
  • A-CED.1 Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems. Include equations arising from linear and quadratic functions, and simple rational and exponential functions.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Building Functions (9-12)
  • F-BF.1.a Determine an explicit expression, a recursive process, or steps for calculation from a context.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Key Ideas and Details (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
Craft and Structure (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11—12 texts and topics.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
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Record Link
AIP Format
N. Lasry, (Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development, Montreal, 2007), WWW Document, (
N. Lasry, Problem Based Learning: First Day on the Job (Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development, Montreal, 2007), <>.
APA Format
Lasry, N. (2008, December 31). Problem Based Learning: First Day on the Job. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development:
Chicago Format
Lasry, Nathaniel. Problem Based Learning: First Day on the Job. Montreal: Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development, December 31, 2008. (accessed 24 April 2024).
MLA Format
Lasry, Nathaniel. Problem Based Learning: First Day on the Job. Montreal: Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development, 2007. 31 Dec. 2008. 24 Apr. 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Nathaniel Lasry", Title = {Problem Based Learning: First Day on the Job}, Publisher = {Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {24 April 2024}, Month = {December 31, 2008}, Year = {2007} }
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%A Nathaniel Lasry %T Problem Based Learning: First Day on the Job %D December 31, 2008 %I Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development %C Montreal %U %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Lasry, Nathaniel %D December 31, 2008 %T Problem Based Learning: First Day on the Job %I Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development %V 2024 %N 24 April 2024 %8 December 31, 2008 %9 text/html %U

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Problem Based Learning: First Day on the Job:

Is Part Of Problem Based Learning for College Physics

This is the full collection of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) exercises developed by the same authors.

relation by Caroline Hall

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