Pictorial Model

When first solving a problem, our initial concern should not be with specific numbers and calculations, but with simply understanding the information in a useful way.

The Pictorial Model is a good way to do this.

A Pictorial Model should include:

  • A sketch of the situation, showing each object
    • at the beginning of the motion,
    • the end of the motion,
    • and at any point in between where the character of the motion changes.

  • A coordinate system that you impose on the problem, including a choice of th origin, the axes, and the positive direction.
  • Symbols, on the sketch, to show position, velocity, and time with subscripts for each time an object is shown on your sketch. Also, show symbols for other relevant quantities such as mass
  • Arrow indicating the direction of the acceleration vector or vectors. Write
    a = 0 if the acceleration is zero.
  • A Table listing the values for all quantities given in the problem or that can be found quickly using geometry.
  • A list of the unknown quantities you have been asked to find.