Road Runner Physics

The world of cartoons obeys its own set of physical laws, and nowhere are they more on display than in the classic Warner Bros. Road Runner & Coyote animated shorts.  It seems that the very nature of the universe (as well as faulty product engineering at the Acme Corp.) conspires against the hapless Coyote as he is thwarted time and time again in his efforts to capture the Road Runner.

As crazy as the cartoon laws of physics may be, one instructor uses them as a fun way to teach about the real laws of physics. Dan Burns, a teacher at Los Gatos High School in California, uses short clips from Road Runner cartoons as a way to get students to think about what would really happen.  Students are asked which physical laws are violated, and which are obeyed, in each situation.

For example, here is a clear violation of conservation of momentum:

Some of Dan’s “Laws of Cartoon Physics”:

  • Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation.
  • Everything falls faster than an anvil.
  • All principles of gravity are negated by fear.
  • As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once.
  • Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter.

If you’d like to use Dan’s material in your class, check out his website, “The Physics of Road Runner” where you can find video clips and a PowerPoint presentation Dan uses in his own class.

Do you incorporate something interactive and media rich in your own classroom to teach math, physics, or chemistry?  If so, send us a message! We would love to share your creative teaching techniques with fellow instructors on our blog.

Friday Funny!

Q: Why can you can never trust atoms?

A. Because they make up everything!

Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Send it in here to be posted as one of our Friday Funnies!

WebAssign Happenings at Joint Math

Members of the WebAssign team were recently on-hand at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Diego, CA and had a great time visiting with both old and new customers. Billed as the “Largest Mathematics Meeting in the World” this event is sponsored by the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America.


WebAssign Product Managers, Content Managers, and Sales personnel were available to listen to customer comments and receive suggestions for improvement. If you were one of the many interested parties that came by the WebAssign booth for a visit, please accept our thanks for stopping by!


There were so many phenomenal sessions at JMM, ranging from leading edge mathematical research to sessions that focused on popular teaching and learning tools, and emerging technologies in education. The interest level in online homework systems and technology in general was evident by the sheer number of presentation sessions dealing with the topic.

Sessions specific to WebAssign were presented by Jack Narayan of SUNY, Oswego and by Lisa Townsley of University of Georgia. They did an excellent job explaining some best practice uses for WebAssign and using online homework as a teaching tool in general. Special thanks to them both for these engaging and informative sessions!  It was truly inspiring to see so many teachers learning from each other and the focus each of them have on improving student outcomes.


Suffice it to say, if you are involved in math,  JMM is the place to be. So, plan ahead for next year to come and meet the WebAssign team in Baltimore, MD at JMM 2014. We’ll be there and can’t wait to see you all!

Friday Funny!

Q: How do you know that the driver driving toward you is a physicist?
A: He has a red sticker on his bumper, saying: “If this sticker is blue, you are driving too fast.”

Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Send it in here to be posted as one of our Friday Funnies!

We want to hear from YOU!

Are you an active WebAssign user who is interested in seeing a preview of new features and updates? Do you have ideas and suggestions about what would make WebAssign even better?

We have several new features and designs in the works that we want to run by YOU!  We invite you to join our team of user testers and make your voice heard.  Your feedback and opinions could affect the future direction of WebAssign.

In particular we are looking for feedback on ideas for improving the way you setup courses and schedule assignments.  If this sounds like something you or a colleague could be interested in, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch soon.

New Content Available in WebAssign!

The following textbooks are now available for use in WebAssign with many more titles to be added soon.


Friday Funny!

Q: What do you get if you cross a giraffe with an elephant?

A: Giraffe elephant sine theta.

Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Send it in here to be posted as one of our Friday Funnies!