Section

  • AP Physics 1

    AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based covers topics and concepts typically included in the first semester of an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course.  Topics include kinematics (motion), dynamics (forces), circular motion & gravitation, simple harmonic motion, momentum & impulse, energy & work, rotational motion & torque, electric charge & electric force, DC circuits (resistors only), and mechanical waves & sound.  The course focuses on high-level understanding of concepts, experimental design and critical thinking, and prepares students for the AP Physics 1 exam in May.

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    Summer Assignment
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    Summer Assignment

    The goals of the summer assignment are:

    1. To remind you of the math that you'll need for AP Physics.
    2. To expose you to a couple of new types of problem that you may not be used to yet.  (In a perfect world, you would struggle with them a little but figure them out.  In an imperfect world, you might struggle a lot and get help from me.)
    3. To get you started thinking about problem solving and designing experiments.
    4. To weed out anyone who's not serious about putting effort into the class.
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    Reference
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    Reference

    Data and other useful reference materials.

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    Laboratory
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    Laboratory

    Notes pp. 13-42

    Laboratory safety, style guides and rubrics for laboratory notebooks and formal reports, laboratory equipment, performing experiments.

    The purpose of this chapter is to teach skills necessary for designing and carrying out laboratory experiments, recording data, and writing summaries of the experiment in different formats.

    • Designing & Performing Experiments discusses strategies for coming up with your own experiments and carrying them out.
    • Accuracy & PrecisionUncertainty & Error Analysis, and Recording and Analyzing Data discuss techniques for working with the measurements taken during laboratory experiments.
    • Keeping a Laboratory Notebook and Formal Laboratory Reports discuss ways in which you might communicate (write up) your laboratory experiments.

    Calculating uncertainty (instead of relying on significant figures) is a new and challenging skill that will be used in lab write-ups throughout the year.

    Skills learned & applied in this topic:

    • Designing laboratory experiments
    • Error analysis (calculation & propagation of uncertainty)
    • Formats for writing up lab experiments
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    Mathematics
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    Mathematics

    Coletta pp. 6-15; Notes pp. 43-78

    The purpose of this chapter is to familiarize you with mathematical concepts and skills that will be needed in physics.

    • Standard Assumptions in Physics discusses what you can and cannot assume to be true in order to be able to solve the problems you will encounter in this class.
    • Assigning & Substituting Variables discusses how to determine which quantity and which variable apply to a number given in a problem based on the units, and how to choose which formula applies to a problem.
    • The Metric System and Scientific Notation briefly review skills that you are expected to remember from your middle school math and science classes.
    • Trigonometry, Vectors, Vectors vs. Scalars in Physics, and Vector Multiplication discuss important mathematical concepts that are widely used in physics, but may be unfamiliar to you.

    Depending on your math background, some of the topics, such as trigonometry and vectors, may be unfamiliar.  These topics will be taught, but in a cursory manner.

    Skills learned & applied in this chapter:

    • Estimating uncertainty in measurements
    • Propagating uncertainty through calculations
    • Identifying quantities in word problems and assigning them to variables
    • Choosing a formula based on the quantities represented in a problem
    • Using trigonometry to calculate the lengths of sides and angles of triangles
    • Representing quantities as vectors
    • Adding and subtracting vectors
    • Multiplying vectors using the dot product and cross product
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    Kinematics (Motion)
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    Kinematics (Motion)

    Coletta Ch. 1-4, pp. 16-117

    Notes pp. 79–102

    In this topic, you will study how things move and how the relevant quantities are related.

    • Motion, Speed & Velocity and Acceleration deal with understanding and calculating the velocity (change in position) and acceleration (change in velocity) of an object, and with representing and interpreting graphs involving these quantities.
    • Projectile Motion deals with an object that has two-dimensional motion—moving horizontally and also affected by gravity.

    Skills learned & applied in this topic:

    • Choosing from a set of equations based on the quantities present.
    • Working with vector quantities.
    • Relating the slope of a graph and the area under a graph to equations.
    • Using graphs to represent and calculate quantities.
    • Keeping track of things happening in two directions at once.
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    Dynamics (Forces) & Gravitation
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    Dynamics (Forces) & Gravitation

    Notes pp. 103-139

    In this chapter you will learn about different kinds of forces and how they relate.

    • Newton's Laws and Forces describe basic scientific principles of how objects affect each other.
    • Free-Body Diagrams describes a way of drawing a picture that represents forces acting on an object.
    • Forces Applied at an Angle, Ramp Problems, and Pulleys & Tension describe some common situations involving forces and how to calculate the forces involved.
    • Friction and Aerodynamic Drag describe situations in which a force is created by the action of another force.
    • Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation describes how to calculate the force of gravity caused by massive objects such as planets and stars.

    One of the first challenges will be working with variables that have subscripts.  Each type of force uses the variable F.  Subscripts will be used to keep track of the different kinds of forces.  This chapter also makes extensive use of vectors.

    Another challenge in this chapter will be to "chain” equations together to solve problems.  This involves finding the equation that has the quantity you need, and then using a second equation to find the quantity that you are missing from the first equation.

    Skills learned & applied in this chapter:

    • Solving chains of equations.
    • Using trigonometry to extract a vector in a desired direction.
    • Working with material-specific constants from a table.
    • Estimating the effect of changing one variable on another variable in the same equation.
    •  Newton's Laws of Motion File 489.9KB PDF document
    •  Linear Forces File 645.6KB PDF document
    •  Gravitational Fields File 466.5KB PDF document
    •  Free-Body Diagrams File 628.8KB PDF document
    •  Newton's Second Law File 526.5KB PDF document
    •  Force Applied at an Angle File 728.3KB PDF document
    •  Ramp Problems File 693.3KB PDF document
    •  Pulleys & Tension File 489.1KB PDF document
    •  Friction File 815KB PDF document
    •  Universal Gravitation File 485.9KB PDF document
    •  Human Free-Body Diagram File 473.3KB PDF document
    •  Animation: Gravitation File 100.7KB application/x-shockwave-flash
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    Rotational Dynamics (Torque)
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    Rotational Dynamics (Torque)

    Notes pp. 149-169

    In this chapter, you will learn about repetitive back and forth motion.

    • Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM) describes the concept of repetitive back-and-forth motion and situations that apply to it.
    • Springs, Pendulums and Angular Motion describe specific examples of SHM and the specific equations relating to each.
    • Torque describes forces that cause rotational motion and the equations relating to them.
    • Centripetal vs. Centrifugal Force describes the forces on an object that is moving in a circular path.

    This chapter will present some new challenges with keeping directions correct.  The torque section will introduce the idea of having multiple instances of the same quantity in an equation and adding them up.

    Skills learned & applied in this chapter:

    • Working with more than one instance of the same quantity in a problem.
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    Work, Energy & Momentum
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    Work, Energy & Momentum

    Notes pp. 171-202

    This chapter deals with the ability of a moving object (or potential for an object to move) to affect other objects.

    • Linear Momentum describes a way to represent the movement of an object and what happens when objects collide, and the equations that relate to it.  Impulse describes changes in momentum.
    • Work and Energy describe the ability to cause something to move and the related equations.  Power describes the rate at which energy is applied.
    • Escape Velocity and Newton's Cradle describe interesting applications of energy and momentum.

    New challenges in this chapter involve keeping track of the same quantity applied to the same object, but at different times.

    Skills learned & applied in this chapter:

    • Working with more than one instance of the same quantity in a problem.
    • Conservation laws (before/after problems).
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    Electricity & Magnetism
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    Electricity & Magnetism

    Notes pp. 179-227

    This chapter discusses electricity and magnetism, how they behave, and how they relate to each other.

    • Electric Change, Coulomb’s Law, and Electric Fields describe the behavior of individual charged particles and how to calculate the effects of these particles on each other.
    • Electric Current & Ohm’s Law describes equations and calculations involving the flow of charged particles (electric current).
    • Electrical Components, Series Circuits, Parallel Circuits, Mixed Series & Parallel Circuits, and Measuring Voltage, Current & Resistance describe the behavior of electrical components in a circuit and how to calculate quantities relating to the individual components and the entire circuit, based on the way the components are arranged.
    • Magnetism describes properties of magnets and what causes objects to be magnetic.  Electricity & Magnetism describes how electricity and magnetism affect each other.

    One of the new challenges encountered in this chapter is interpreting and simplifying circuit diagrams, in which different equations may apply to different parts of the circuit.

    Skills learned & applied in this chapter:

    • Working with material-specific constants from a table.
    • Identifying electric circuit components.
    • Simplifying circuit diagrams.
    •  Electric Charge File 1.2MB RTF document
    •  Coulomb's Law File 229.8KB RTF document
    •  Electric Fields File 1.2MB RTF document
    •  Electrical Components File 4.3MB RTF document
    •  Circuits File 1.1MB RTF document
    •  Series Circuits File 433.6KB RTF document
    •  Parallel Circuits File 1.9MB RTF document
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    Oscillation & Simple Harmonic Motion
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    Oscillation & Simple Harmonic Motion

    Notes pp. 229-255

    This chapter discusses oscillations and simple harmonic motion.

    • Springs describes the properties and equations that pertain to springs.
    • Pendulums describes the properties and equations that pertain to pendulums.

    Skills learned & applied in this chapter:

    • Understanding the mechanics of repeated actions.
    •  Simple Harmonic Motion File 672.9KB RTF document
    •  Springs File 655.7KB RTF document
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    Mechanical Waves & Sound
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    Mechanical Waves & Sound

    Notes pp. 229-255

    This chapter discusses properties of waves that travel through a medium (mechanical waves).

    • Waves gives general information about waves, including vocabulary and equations.  Reflection and Superposition describes what happens when two waves share space within a medium.
    • Sound & Music describes the properties and equations of waves that relate to music and musical instruments.
    • The Doppler Effect describes the effects of motion of the source or receiver (listener) on the perception of sound.

    Skills learned & applied in this chapter:

    • Visualizing wave motion.
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    The AP Physics 1 Exam
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    The AP Physics 1 Exam

    These resources should help you get ready for the AP Physics 1 exam.