Research into Students’ Views About Basic Physics Principles in a Weightless Environment
In this research project, students are asked to explain what they think would occur if some everyday events were to take place in a weightless environment. The purpose of the study is to investigate: 1) whether students can understand the concept of “weightlessness;” and 2) how the level of understanding of such events develops as students progress from high school to college. We have investigated the nature of students’ perceptions of the weightlessness concept by asking four open-ended questions and by conducting semi-structured interviews in the case of incomplete answers. The results show that most students lack a sense of “order of magnitude” when they imagine an experience different from what they are familiar with in daily life. We also describe the mental images that the students form, and the physical relations that the students infer from these images.