Most of the phenomena in the world around you are, at the fundamental level, based on physics, and much of physics is based on mechanics. Mechanics begins by quantifying motion, and then explaining it in terms of forces, energy and momentum. This allows us to analyse the operation of many familiar phenomena around us, but also the mechanics of planets, stars and galaxies.
This on-demand course is recommended for senior high school and university students, science teachers and anyone with a curiosity about basic physics. The course uses rich multimedia tutorials to present the material: film clips of key experiments, animations and worked example problems, all with a friendly narrator. You'll do a range of interesting practice problems, and in an optional component, you will use your ingenuity to complete at-home experiments using simple, everyday materials.
You will need some simple high-school mathematics: arithmetic, a little algebra, quadratic equations, and the sine, cosine and tangent functions from trigonometry. The course does not use calculus. However, we do provide a study aid introducing the calculus that would accompany this course if it were taught in a university.
By studying mechanics in this course, you will understand with greater depth many of the wonders around you in everyday life, in technology and in the universe at large. Meanwhile, we think you'll have some fun, too.

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Work, Energy and Power

In week 6 we explore work and energy, then power – the rate of doing work. We'll use work and Newton's second law to derive the quantity called kinetic energy. Looking at where work comes from, we'll distinguish two sorts of force – conservative and non-conservative. That will allow us to introduce potential energy and mechanical energy. Power is the rate of doing work. We'll spend some time relating these quantities and their units to your everyday experience, relating Joules to kilowatt hours (the unit used by electricity companies) and kilowatts to horsepower and to human power.