AP Physics Course Syllabus

Welcome to APB Physics!  APB Physics is a trigonometry and algebra based introductory Physics course. The main focus of this course is the development of conceptual understanding of basic concepts of Newtonian Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Physics, Work Power and Energy, Simple Harmonic Motion, Electromagnetism, waves and optics, nuclear physics and Modern Physics.  Activities related to each unit will include a series of practice problems from the text, at least one hands-on laboratory exploration with a formal write-up, check-point quizzes and a summative unit assessment using both multiple choice and AP style constructed response questions.

Understanding of experimental measurements will be assisted by the use of computer aided data collection, analysis and modeling.  

Text:  Physics:  Principles with Applications (Giancolli) Revised 5th edition, 1998 Prentice Hall. 

Schedule:  Class will meet each day of the cycle (40 min.) with Lab scheduled every other day. 

Attendance:  Please familiarize yourself with the school attendance policy. 

Equipment/Supplies:  You should bring with you each day a scientific calculator, your text, a folder or binder to organize resources and a notebook.  You will also maintain a laboratory Portfolio. 

Student Responsibilities:  This IS a college level course.  This carries with it a greater responsibility on the part of the student in terms of their active participation in the learning process.  A reasonable rule of thumb might be to spend at least as much time independently studying outside of class as you spend in the classroom.  

Extra Help:  Office hours to provide supplemental instruction will be established.  If these times do not work for you, individual help will be available as well.  You may also wish to develop study groups with peers from your class to help each other. 

Grading:  Grading will be done on a total points basis. 

Lab:  A separately scheduled laboratory section is conducted every other day.  The laboratory experiences are based on the AP Lab Manual. 

Course Outline 

This course is organized into units based on the following content areas.  These concepts will be developed both in lecture and during the lab sessions.  Learning objectives for each of the concepts will provide the student with opportunities to practice any associated problem solving or process skills prior to assessment of learning.  It is the students responsibility to take advantage of these learning experiences to ensure that they demonstrate mastery of the objectives. If you find that you are experiencing difficulty, arrange for extra help from the instruction prior to the assessment.  If you have any questions please feel free to set up a time to meet and discuss them with me.  

The anticipated timeline is also included: 

Newtonian Mechanics:  C1
September 6 November 14

  • 1 Dimensional Motion (uniform and accelerated)
  • 2 Dimensional motion
  • Uniform Circular motion
  • planetary and satellite motion
  • projectile motion
  • Newtons Universal Gravitation
  • Forces and equilibrium (1st law)
  • Single particle dynamics (2nd law)
  • Systems of 2 or more bodies (3rd law)
  • work power and energy
  • Conservative and non-conservative forces
  • Potential energy
  • Power
  • Impulse
  • Momentum
  • conservation of linear momentum (collisions/explosions)
  • Torque and rotational statics 

Simple Harmonic Motion (dynamics and energy relationships)  
November 15- November 20

  • masses on springs
  • pendulums 


Fluid Mechanics/ Thermal Physics C2 
November 21- December 13

  • Hydrostatic pressure
  • buoyancy
  • fluid flow continuity
  • Bernouillis equation
  • Mechanical equivalent of heat
  • specific/latent heat
  • Heat transfer and expansion
  • Ideal Gas Law
  • Kinetic Theory of Gasses
  • 1st Law of Thermodynamics including processes on PV diagrams
  • 2nd Law including heat engines and efficiencies 


Electricity and Magnetism C3
January 2- February 27

  • Electric Charge
  • Quantization of Charge (elementary charges)
  • Sharing/transfer of charges
  • Coulomb Force
  • electrical fields
  • electric potential energy, electric potential difference
  • Capacitors and energy stored on capacitors (steady state)
  • properties of conductors and insulators (microstructure or matter)
  • Electromotive force and current (conventional and electron current)
  • series circuit design and analysis
  • parallel circuit design and analysis
  • complex circuit design and analysis
  • potential drop across circuit elements
  • use of voltmeters/ammeters in circuit analysis
  • electric power
  • electric energy
  • electric hazards/safety
  • magnetic force
  • magnetic fields
  • motion of charge particles in magnetic fields
  • magnetic field around current carrying conductors
  • right hand rules for magnetic forces on conductors (conventional current)
  • Lenz's Law
  • Electromagnetic Induction
  • Torque on current carrying loop in magnetic field 

Waves and Optics C4
(March 1- March 31)

  • Types of waves
  • sound
  • superposition of waves (constructive/destructive interference, geat patterns)
  • resonance
  • wave behaviors: refraction, reflection, diffraction
  • Relationship between frequency and wavelength
  • doppler effect
  • electromagnetic waves
  • interaction of light and matter (reflection, refraction, diffraction dispersion)
  • critical angle calculation
  • total internal reflection and fiber optics
  • single and double slit interference
  • geometric optics
  • polarization of light

Nuclear Physics/Modern Physics C5
April 1-April 15

  • Models of the atom: historical perspective
  • Quantum theory
  • Mass-Energy relationship 
  • Energy of a photon
  • DeBroglie Matter Waves
  • Compton Effect
  • photon momentum
  • emission spectra 
  • Standard Model (Quarks, Leptons and Hadrons) 
  • Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
  • Review for APB Examination 

Laboratory Experiments:  C6 C7
Laboratory Explorations consist of both open ended explorations as well as guided explorations. In the open-ended explorations, students must create their own experimental design, leading to the collection of relevant data, which they must analyze and draw conclusions from.  The use of spreadsheet programs for data analysis is encouraged. students are given rubrics for formal lab write-ups that show the structure and content required. All of these are student activities not teacher demonstrations. 

  • Uniform motion analysis
  • inertial mass determination
  • acceleration due to gravity
  • composition of forces
  • horizontal projectiles
  • Atwood Machine
  • coefficient of friction
  • uniform circular motion
  • Conservation of Momentum
  • Hooke's Law
  • pendulum
  • buoyancy
  • Boyle's Law
  • Coefficient of Linear Expansion
  • Calculation Resistance of a conductor
  • Series and parallel circuits 
  • electric equivalent of heat
  • standing waves
  • speed of sound by resonance
  • exploration of light
  • geometric optics