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Advanced Physics

Course Overview

This college-preparatory, calculus-based advanced physics class covers a variety of topics, including; kinematics, Newton’s Laws, circular motion, work, power, energy, momentum and statics, rotational mechanics, electrostatics, electric potential and energy storage, electric currents, resistance and DC circuits, magnetism, electromagnetic induction, and Farady’s Law. To place into this course, students need to have either successfully completed high school physics or passed a placement test showing prior knowledge of physics concepts. This course utilizes student-centered learning to foster the development of critical thinking skills in a flipped-online classroom environment where the students and teacher meet for two 90-minute synchronous sessions a week and complete the rest of the work asynchronously. Discussion and demonstration activities allow students to construct explanations and engage in argument from evidence gleaned through investigations. They will also center on having students evaluate their own critical thinking and then making predictions about a given situation. Laboratories include both teacher directed and student designed/directed investigations to develop the ability to analyze complex information. Giancoli’s Physics for Scientists and Engineers volumes 1 and 2 will be used as the texts for this course. This course covers most of the topics covered in the AP Physics C Mechanics and E/M Curricula, and students may opt to take the AP Physics C exam in the Spring.

Course Content

Unit 1: Kinematics

As the opening unit of the year, students are introduced to the flipped classroom in an online setting, as well as how to appropriately interact with classmates from around the country via various technologies. This will all occur within the context of learning kinematics from the calculus perspective. Problem solving, and discussion will enhance the understanding of kinematics principles, free fall, and projectile motion. The use of the Pocketlab Voyager data logger, and hot rod car will allow students to investigate motion and verify relationships within kinematics.

Unit 2: Newton’s Laws

Using Newton’s Three Laws of Motion as the basis for this unit, students explore forces, including friction, and their effect on motion. By the end of the unit, given a combination of forces acting on an object resulting in constant acceleration, students will be able to apply Newton’s Laws and kinematics equations for constant acceleration to solve problems involving the motion of the object; that is, concerning its acceleration, velocity, position, etc. They will also be able to represent a system of forces by modeling them as free body diagrams for a system of 2 or 3 objects with constant acceleration, identify the reaction forces for each force acting on the objects and apply Newton’s Laws to solve for any unknown quantities. The design of the investigation for this unit will be a combination of ideas from students working collaboratively with each other ensure that a fair, valid scientific investigation is carried out. Evidence based results will be communicated via a formal lab report, which includes a synopsis, background information summary, data analysis, and a conclusion, which will be justified through the error propagation carried out throughout the investigation and a comparison to known scientific context.

Unit 3: Circular Motion

In this unit, the text is used to introduce students to the concepts key to understanding centripetal force and acceleration, tangential acceleration, the Law of Universal Gravitation, satellites, weightlessness and Kepler’s Laws. Students will discuss the concepts and solve problems during our live synchronous sessions. Students will not only have an opportunity to solve quantitative problems dealing with these topics but will also discuss conceptual questions and “real world” problems of satellite operations using the information gained in this unit. Information gotten from NASA’s public websites about current satellite missions will be used as examples of why understanding this topic is important outside of the classroom.

Unit 4: Work, Energy and Power

Building on the previous units, this unit combines the ideas of conservation of energy with conservation of work, leading to the work energy theorem. Situations where work is done by non-conservative forces, dissipated energy and escape velocity are also included in this unit. Graphical analysis is used to determine the relationship between work done and position of an object, along with the amount of power produced or used in certain situations. Students have the opportunity to not only solve quantitative problems about work, power and energy, but qualitative questions will also be analyzed and discussed. Real life situations about moving objects around rooms and a study of how engines can be used to do work for us will be included.

Unit 5: Momentum and Statics

Linear momentum and impulse will be introduced as a way to interpret changes in mechanical situations. Graphical analysis will again be an underlying concept through which to understand this unit. Conservation of momentum in 2 dimensions will be applied to two or more objects in two dimensional motion. The difference between elastic and inelastic collisions will be thoroughly discussed with respect to conservation of momentum for both colliding objects and exploding objects. Car safety and an understanding of amusement park physics will be included in this unit with the use of online simulations from pHet and Explore learning gizmos. The effect center of mass has on momentum, and equilibrium will also be discussed.

Unit 6: Rotational Motion

In this unit, we move from translational motion to rotational motion. It is the last unit of the mechanics portion of the course. We will apply all of the kinematics we have learned to rigid bodies experiencing torques as opposed to linear forces. The use of radians in this unit will help students further understand the idea that observations need to be made in the most appropriate system of measurement as well as allow them to relate this unit more directly to what they have learned in mathematics with respect to the unit circle. For a rotating object, if given initial conditions and any one of the following: theta(t), alpha(t), or omega(t), derive the other two functions using derivatives and/or integrals. They will also define and determine the magnitude and direction of the torque on a particle moving in a plane about an arbitrary origin under the influence of the given force. These concepts will be related to students’ lives through discussions about bicycle tires, car tires, and other objects that utilize circular motion.

Unit 7: Electrostatics

As the first unit students will complete in electricity and magnetism, this unit will introduce them to the ideas of electric charge, electric fields and Gauss’ law. By the end of the unit the students will be able to; state Coulomb’s Law, and describe its limitations, define the concept of Electric Field in terms of the force on a test charge, apply Coulomb’s Law and the concept of Electric Field to solve problems involving a charged particle in an electric field, calculate by integration using Coulomb’s Law and the principle of superposition the Electric Field of: a straight uniformly charged wire, and a loop of wire at a point on the axis going through the center of the loop. They will also be able to state Gauss’s Law, apply Gauss’s Law to determine net charges and E fields at specific points due to various charge distributions.

Unit 8: Electric Potential

This unit introduces students to electric potential, capacitance, dielectrics and electric energy storage. By the end of this unit, students will be able to: define the concept of Electric Potential and the electron-volt, as well as calculate the work done on a charged particle as it moves from one point to another. They will also be able to find the electric potential at a point and determine how it changes with distance. Finally, through investigations and simulations, students will gain an understanding of capacitors and capacitance.

Unit 9: Electric Currents, Resistance and DC Circuits

Students will learn about DC circuits. By the end of the unit the students will understand how our modern conception of current is different than the historical understanding. They will be able to explain DC circuits using appropriate vocabulary and reasoning. They will show their understanding of Ohm’s Law and Kirchhoff’s Laws through both problem-solving assignments and hands on investigations. The understanding of how capacitors and resistors work together in circuits will also be gained in this unit. This unit builds upon concepts learned in previous units and will be used to further understand future units.

Unit 10: Magnetism

Students will use a variety of sources along with the textbook to understand sources of B fields and magnetism. By the end of the unit, students will be able to explain the relationship between the motion of particles and magnetic fields and forces. The idea that magnets apply forces on other objects from a distance, along with the Biot-Savart Law and Ampere’s Law will finish off this unit. The students’ understanding in this unit will be built upon in the next unit when we combine electricity with magnetism.

Unit 11: Electricity and Magnetism

As the final unit of the year, students learn about the connection between electricity and magnetism, induction, Faraday’s Law, Inductance, e/m oscillations and Maxwell’s equations. By the end of the unit students will be able to synthesize all of the past units into their understanding of the combined understanding of how electricity and magnetism control so much of our lives.