Vectors in Science Education
Students learn that some physical quantities behave like vectors fairly early in school science lessons right across Europe. However the nature of vectors and the application of the vector algebra model to real life situations is often poor. This leads to misunderstanding and confusion for the student and prevents them from accessing deeper meaning essential to the civil and mechanical engineer, not to mention physicists and architects.
There are difficulties caused by the incorrect use of the negative sign and a failure to accept that acceleration is a vector because of the use of the word deceleration in English. Velocity is rarely derived from the change of displacement so that endless confusion arises from the use of the word speed, again in English! Most learners think that the vector nature of force for example simply means that in the downwards direction it is positive and upwards it is negative!
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