What is Physics?

  • Welcome to AP Physics 1!

    Congratulations- you are taking physics! Whether by default ("it was the next logical course to take..."), out of necessity ("I have to take this course to have the best chance to get into the college of my choice..."), or interest ("I really love science and have always wanted to know more about how the universe works..."), D7 will be your "science home" for the year. So, welcome!

    Physics is not just a "class." It is an attempt to explain the underpinnings of our universe. This includes the strange behavior of particles at the quantum level, and the search for a "theory of everything" to unify quantum mechanics and gravitation, the topics of "Modern Physics." Today's work in with the high energy particle accelerators and missions to the outer edge of our solar system, plans of manned missions to Mars, development of new, high-tech materials and technologies, are all the products of a progression of ideas that have their roots in the thoughts of the ancient philosophers.
    The point is- there is no way that you should expect to leave in June with a full understanding of all things physics!This year, you will take your first journey into Newtonian Mechanics, starting with the study of motion (kinematics) and the forces that may be involved in motion (dynamics) or "non-motion" (statics). You will learn about interactions from the microscopic scale to the cosmic scale. You will also be introduced to electrostatics and basic circuits, magnetism and thermodynamics. Along the way, you will cultivate your critical thinking and problem solving skills, and design and carry out experiments to test predictions. 
    To help you develop your understanding of physics concepts, we will employ different learning strategies. We have a lot of hands-on, student-centered activities that fill up much of our class time, leaving less time for traditional "lecture". This is not really a new problem for physics classrooms, and (as will be the case in your college classes) students have always been expected to read ahead, and re-read, material outside of class, in addition to completing problem sets to gauge their progress. Today, we have the benefit of being able to use online resources to handle some of the "content delivery." As a rule, you should plan to pre-read material and take your own notes from your reading, add to your notes after we apply the content in class activities or in lecture situations, and spend a significant amount of time completing the assigned questions and problems. You will often also be assigned a "flipped lesson," which presents material in video format as a supplement to your textbook. Finally, you will occasionally need to perform video analysis experiments at home, using Vernier Logger Pro software, which is free to download as per my instructions.