The primary goal of this course is to provide a comprehensive introduction to physics at the college level. A secondary goal is to perform well on the AP Exam in May and the Regents Exam in June.



                Due to the enormous amount of theory to be covered in a course that includes many topics of physics, the course is lecture and laboratory oriented. Some time is allotted each day for problem solving and for questions related to both problems and concepts. Several times each week, you will be given time in class to work on end-of-chapter problems so I can assist you. You’ll be encouraged to work together in pairs at times to help each other master the concepts and solve problems.

                Laboratory work is used on a regular basis to illustrate each topic in the course. We will try to keep laboratory groups small to foster independence in experimentation. Labs will often begin with a question and/or problem that students must attempt to solve, for example: hitting a target with a projectile, determining the focal length of a lens, or the spring constant of a pop-up toy.   We will try to use computers in as much laboratory work as possible for data acquisition, graphing, simulations, word processing, and tutorials. Other uses of technology will be used such as video, power-point, and laser disc.



                Prerequisites: You should have an excellent working knowledge of mathematics to be successful in AP Physics. Having completed or presently enrolled in Trignometry, Precalculus, or Calculus is a must.


                Quizzes: Quizzes will be given periodically to assess student achievement as chapters are completed. They will usually be 40-60 points and may be announced. They may be multiple-choice, free-response, or a combination. Most likely one quiz will be given for each chapter.


                Tests: Block-long tests will be given after the completion of each unit. These will be 100 points each.


                Quarterly Exam: At the end of every 10 weeks, a cumulative exam will be given to assess student progress. It will be worth 100 points. The Midterm Exam will be worth 200 points.


                Homework: Homework is assigned at the beginning of each chapter. Your progress in working through these problems will be checked periodically. Each check will be worth 10 points. A small amount of credit is awarded if the majority of problems have been solved on a regular basis. Homework problems are used as the basis for class discussion. To be successful in this course, you must do the homework problems!


                Laboratory Notebooks: Individual laboratory notebooks will be assessed for each laboratory experiment performed.*  Each lab report will usually be worth 50 to 100 points.


                Laboratory Projects: Following the AP Exam there are usually about 4 weeks or so of classes remaining. A project is normally assigned which will count as a 4th quarter test grade. All of those students who have not taken Regents Physics will take the Regents Exam in June.


                Grading System: A point system is used in determining your grade. The total number of points earned by the student is divided by the total possible number of points and multiplied by 100 to obtain a percent score. The school grading system is then applied, which is a numerical grade. A five point compensation will be awarded to each marking period grade for participation in an AP course.


                Textbook: College Physics, 6th edition. Serway and Faughn.


    The content for the course is based on six big ideas:

    Big Idea 1 – Objects and systems have properties such as mass and charge. Systems may have internal structure.

    Big Idea 2 – Fields existing in space can be used to explain interactions.

    Big Idea 3 – The interactions of an object with other objects can be described by forces.

    Big Idea 4 – Interactions between systems can result in changes in those systems.

    Big Idea 5 – Changes that occur as a result of interactions are constrained by conservation laws.

    Big Idea 6 – Waves can transfer energy and momentum from one location to another without the permanent transfer of mass and serve as a mathematical model for the description of other phenomena.



    I.                   Mechanics

    A.                Tools of Physics [Big Idea 1]

    1.      Mathematical Analysis

    a.       Significant figures

    b.      SI system of measurement

    c.       Review of trigonometry

    d.      Dimensional analysis

    e.       Order of magnitude


    B.                 Motion in One Dimension [Big Idea 1]

    1.      One Dimensional Kinematics

    2.      Graphing motion

    3.      Free-fall

    4.      Motion in two dimensions


    C.                 Vectors and 2-Dimensional Motion [Big Idea 1]

    1.      Methods of vector arithmetic

    2.      Two-dimensional kinematics


    D.                Newton’s Laws of Motion [Big Ideas 1, 2, 3 and 4]

    1.      Forces

    2.      Dynamics and Newton’s 2nd Law

    3.      Statics and equilibrium


    E.                 Work, Power, and Energy [Big Ideas 3, 4, and 5]

    1.      Work and the Work-Energy Theorem

    2.      Kinetic and potential energy

    3.      Conservation of Energy

    4.      Power


    F.                  Linear Momentum [Big Ideas 3, 4, and 5]

    1.      Impulse and Momentum

    2.      Conservation of linear momentum, collisions


    G.                Rotational Motion and Universal Gravitation [Big Ideas 3, 4, and 5]

    1.      Centripetal forces and accelerations

    2.      Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation

    a.       Satellite motion

    b.      Kepler’s Laws


    H.                Rotational Mechanics [Big Ideas 3, 4, and 5]

    1.      Rotational kinematics

    2.      Conservation of rotational energy and momentum

    3.      Torque

    4.      Rotational statics


    I.                   Vibrations and Waves [Big Idea 6]

    1.      Simple harmonic motion

    a.       Mass Spring Systems

    b.      Pendulums

    2.      Wave mechanics and sound


    II.                Electricity and magnetism

    A.                Electrostatics [Big Ideas 1,3 and 5]

    1.      Conservation of Charge and static electricity

    2.      Coulomb’s Law

    3.      Electric fields and potentials


    B.                 Electric Circuits [Big Ideas 1 and 5]

    1.      Current, resistance, power, and Ohm’s Law

    2.      Steady-state direct current circuits with batteries and resistors

    3.      Series, parallel, and combination circuits

    4.      Kirchhoff’s Laws applied to DC circuits


    C.                 Magnetism [Big Ideas 1,3 and 5]

    1.      Magnetic fields

    2.      Forces on moving charges in a magnetic field

    3.      Forces on current-carrying wires in a magnetic field


    D.                Electromagnetic Induction (including Faraday’s Law and Lenz’s Law)

    [Big Ideas 1,3 and 5]



    III.             Light and Optics

    A.                Light [Big Ideas 1, 5, and 6]

    1.      Electromagnetic waves

    2.      Reflection and refraction

    3.      Diffraction and interference

    4.      Young’s experiment

    5.      Dispersion of light


    IV.             Modern Physics [Big Ideas 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6]

    A.                Atomic Physics and Quantum Effects

    1.      Models of the atom history

    2.      Photons and the photoelectric effect

    3.      Bohr model and energy levels

    4.      Wave-particle duality

    5.      Standard model


    Laboratory Activities:

    Twenty five percent of the course will be lab work. Labs may take several in-class days to finish, and students may have to do work outside of class as well.

    Students are expected to keep a lab notebook where they will maintain a record of their laboratory work. Lab reports will consist of the following components:



    Design (if applicable): If the lab has no set procedure, what is to be done? Why are you doing it this way?

                            Data: All data gathered in the lab will go here

    Calculations/Graphs: Calculations are done here. Any graphs that need to be made go here.

    Conclusion: Data analysis occurs here, and a statement can be made about what was learned in the lab. Error analysis also occurs here. Evaluation of the lab occurs here as well.





    Lab Number

    Lab Name

    Guided inquiry


    Science Practices


    Paper Tower Competition

    Y (1)

    Students will design a tower made of paper with limited resources and supplies

    1.1, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1


    Random motion and free-fall   


    Students will use tape-timers to graph and analyze the random motion of a cart and the acceleration due to gravity

    1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.3, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 5.3


    Speed Lab

    Y (2)

    Students will design an experiment to determine the range of speeds of a variable speed cart.


    2.1, 2.2, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3



    Vectors and Map making


    Students will use maps, rulers and protractors to construct vectors on a map

    1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 7.1


    Force tables


    Students will use force tables to add vectors both graphically and mathematically

    1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 7.1


    Shoot for you grade (2-D motion)

    Y (3)

    Students will design an experiment to determine the conditions necessary to hit a target on the floor.

    1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3



    Newton’s 2nd Law

    Y (4)

    What is the relationship between the mass of a system and the acceleration of the system?


    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4



    Air track collisions

    Y (5)

    Students will construct various collision scenarios on the air track, and make conclusions about momentum conservation

    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4, 7.2



    Conservation of Energy


    Students will determine the spring constant of a toy using the conservation of energy law

    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4



    Pendulum Lab

    Y (6)

    What factors control the period of a simple pendulum

    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4



    Centripetal Force

    Y (7)

    Using a spinning rubber stopper to lift masses, students will determine the relationship between the acceleration of the stopper and the centripetal force.


    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4



    Mobile of Torque


    Students will construct a mobile using the mathematics and concepts of equilibrium.

    1.1, 1.4, 2.2, 4.3, 6.1



    Springs and Pendulum

    Y (8)

    Students must determine both the spring constant k of a spring and the mass of three unknown masses. Students must also investigate the conservation of mechanical energy of the system. Materials given: spring with unknown spring constant, known masses, unknown masses.


    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4



    Coulomb’s Law

    Y (9)

    What is the charge stored on a pair of charged balloons that are repelling each other?


    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4



    Electric Field Mapping


    Students will map various electric fields and determine a gradient

    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4



    DC Circuits Lab

    Y (10)

    Using a number of resistors, explore current and voltage in resistors hooked up to a power supply when resistors are wired in series with one another and when they are wired in parallel with one another.


    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4




    Snell’s Law


    Students will determine the index of refraction of various materials

    1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 5.1, 5.3, 7.1


    Standard Model Computer Lab


    Students will investigate the Standard Model as well as other models of the atom, and conduct computer simulations

    1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 7.1


    Jupiter’s Moons





    Students will do research on Jupiter and four of its moons. Based on this research, students will mathematically come up with the mass of Jupiter. They will compare this information to the accepted value.


    1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4, 7.1


    Project 1

    Movie Physics


    Students will select a movie, analyze the content for both good and bad physics, and present their findings orally for peers to evaluate their research.

    1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 7.1, 7.2