Advanced Placement Physics B: Course Expectations
Central High School
Identification: This is the Advanced Placement, B course in physics. In universities, its equivalent is offered as a one-year, terminal course - designed as a more thorough - though less mathematically rigorous - treatment of physics for life science, pre-med, other applied science and non-science majors who need one physics course as a distribution requirement.
Purpose: There are two, equally good, reasons why a high school student might decide to take this course. First, he/she may like the subject enough to desire a more profound, college-level understanding of its complexities. Physics teaches a person how to think analytically and the thrill of successful problem solving, coupled with a deeper insight into the everyday function of the world around them, instills self-confidence and peace of mind. Second, the student may desire to take the AP Physics B Exam in order to obtain college credit for this course and thereby accelerate their undergraduate program. In this respect, it needs to be stressed that this course may not qualify for credit towards a physics or engineering degree. For these majors, universities often require a more rigorous treatment of this subject matter, with a much greater emphasis on calculus. Thus the student taking the Physics B course and majoring in these fields may still need to take introductory physics in college. Of course, the preparation of such a student will be much better than average. Having said this, individual colleges vary greatly in their requirements and several students pursuing engineering degrees have had the Physics B course accepted for credit.
Course Outline: The over-riding consideration in this, and any AP course, is the large quantity of material that must be covered in order to prepare completely for the AP exam in May. This mandates a rapid pace. There will be less time for review than other courses can offer, and not all of the material that needs to be addressed can be covered in the classroom - the student must read and study at home. We meet for 90 minutes, every other day. Typically, class resources will be budgeted as follows: a) we open with time for questions concerning the previous day's material or about concepts or problems encountered during the night's study; b) then we move into lecture introducing and illustrating new concepts - and punctuated with demonstrations as frequently as possible; c) finally sample problems, based on the new material, are solved. Certain days will be dedicated solely to problem solving and/or laboratories and activities. Many online and multimedia resources will be used to help the student gain an understanding of the material.
Prerequisites for the course: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry, understanding of basic Trigonometry, vector analysis, graphical analysis, ability to solve word problems, ability to convert units of measure, ability to read and write English fluently, ability to read and understand a textbook, self-discipline, and self-motivation.
Study: The rapid
pace of this course necessitates a large quantity of at-home preparation on the
part of the student (and teacher!). Time must be spent going over class
notes, reading new and re-reading old material from the two texts, solving
conceptual and numerical word problems, and thinking. Physics is unique from
many courses in that almost all of its components require periods of unbroken
concentration and coherent thought in order to master them. You can not really
"get" physics merely by reading the words. Proper and fruitful
textbook study involves reading, pausing, considering, analyzing book graphics,
and sometimes note taking.
Class Participation: Active class participation is encouraged in science. Our class periods are relatively few (given the magnitude of what lies ahead) and, therefore, precious. Use it to clarify doubts encountered in your study at home.
Notes: Lectures will completely cover the major themes of this course. They will be organized according to the AP Physics B syllabus. Lectures will be presented in a way that should be clear to the student, less cluttered with obscuring detail than is often found in textbooks, so that students can see just what the important points really are. Class notes on this lecture material should prove most valuable, especially when plowing though the textbooks at home. Most of the conventions for notation will be the widely recognized ones used by Giancoli.
Resources: There are a number of good resources that should be of aid throughout this course. Keep them in mind as we go along: 1) In addition to the textbook we are using, there are ten or so other good physics textbooks in my room. These may be consulted and/or borrowed at the student's convenience. Often, a different presentation of a theme helps to make it clearer. Also, different texts have different strengths; 2) My website, www.physicsmedic.org, which has links to a variety of physics resources to help you gain a mastery of the knowledge 3) The list of objectives for the AP exam, taken from the types of questions asked on exams over the years; 4) The practice AP Physics B exams you will receive throughout the year - complete with multiple choice and free response sections; 5) your own, accumulating base of solved word problems in a bound notebook.
Grading: We will have three or four exams per quarter. These will emphasize the skills demanded by the AP test - there will be an emphasis on problem solving. In addition, there will be quizzes, labs, and homework problem sets. These exams will contain released exam items from past AP exams.
Remember, your success in this course depends on your effort and the time you spend on this course. This is a college level course, and as such, it will require college-level time. You should be spending, at a minimum, one hour, every day, on this course. Even if there is no official homework, you should be reviewing your notes and reading the textbook. Take time to explore the web links on the class web site and explore physics in more depth.
(adapted from Mr. Harmon, CDS High School)