8.03 Physics III: Vibrations and Waves is the third course in the core physics curriculum at MIT, following 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics and 8.02 Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism. Topics include mechanical vibrations and waves, electromagnetic waves, and optics. These Problem Solving Help Videos provide step-by-step solutions to sample problems. Also included is information about how Physics III is typically taught on the MIT campus. Instructor Insights are shared by Professor Wit Busza who has taught Physics III and its associated recitation sessions many times. Professor Busza’s insights focus on his approach to problem solving, strategies for supporting students as they solve problems, and common sources of confusion for students in the process of problem solving.
Note: These videos were originally produced as part of a physics course that is no longer available on OCW.
The Problem Solving Help Videos provided in this supplemental resource offer step-by-step solutions to sample problems typically encountered in 8.03 Physics III: Vibrations and Waves, an undergraduate-level course in which students learn about harmonic motion, superposition, forced vibrations and resonance, coupled oscillations, normal modes, and other topics.
The Instructor Insights on this page are shared by Professor Wit Busza, who has taught Physics III and its associated recitation sessions many times. At MIT, recitations are opportunities for students to work through problems related to lecture content. Professor Busza’s insights focus on his approach to problem solving, strategies for supporting students as they solve problems, and common sources of confusion for students in the process of problem solving.
Course Goals for Students
- Understand that almost all natural phenomena involve waves and vibrations
- Learn equations that, although identical, can be used to describe very different phenomena
- Be able to distinguish how the physics differs in each of these cases
- Apply understanding of laws of nature in problem solving
Possibilities for Further Study/Careers
8.03 Physics III is the third course in a sequence of four physics courses. It prepares students to take 8.04 Quantum Physics I.
Why do we solve problems? We don’t often explain to students why we solve problems. But shouldn’t we? After all, when you really stop to think about it, the answer to this question is not at all trivial.
In the following pages, Professor Wit Busza describes his problem solving pedagogy.
- Explaining Why We Solve Problems
- Articulating the Two Parts of Physics Problems
- Coming Full Circle in Problem Solving
- Helping Students Solve Problems
- Common Sources of Confusion
Every fall and spring semester
How Student Time Was Spent
During an average week, students are expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
Typically meets 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; usually about 27 sessions total.
Typically involves the application of lecture concepts to problem solving.
Typically involves reading and homework assignments.
Breakdown by Year
Breakdown by Major
Typically physics majors