• 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.

  • Instructions: Clicking on the section name will show / hide the section.

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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.
    •  Summer Assignment 2017 File 546.5KB PDF document
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    Data and other useful reference materials.

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    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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    Coletta pp. 615; Notes pp. 70–132

    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. 14, pp. 16117

    Notes pp. 133–199

    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

    Coletta Ch. 4–6, pp. 87–138

    Notes pp. 200–278

    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 Flash animation
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    Rotational Dynamics
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    Rotational Dynamics

    Coletta §9–1, 9–2, & 9–3 (pp. 214–223)

    Notes pp. 279–317

    In this chapter, you will learn about rotational motion.

    • Centripetal Force describes the forces on an object that is moving in a circular path.
    • Center of Mass describes the concept that forces on an unconstrained object cause rotation about the object's center of mass.
    • Moment of Inertia describes a means for describing how the distribution of an object's mass and distance from the center of rotation 
    • Torque describes forces that cause rotational motion and the equations relating to them.

    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.
    •  Centripetal Force File 404.8KB PDF document
    •  Center of Mass File 525.9KB PDF document
    •  Rotational Inertia File 554.1KB PDF document
    •  Torque File 865.3KB PDF document
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    Work, Energy & Momentum
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    Work, Energy & Momentum

    Coletta Ch. 7–8, pp. 162–198; §9–4 & 9–5 (pp. 224–227)

    Notes pp. 318–399

    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).
    •  Work File 601.4KB PDF document
    •  Energy File 381.8KB PDF document
    •  Conservation of Energy File 641.5KB PDF document
    •  Rotational Work File 374.1KB PDF document
    •  Rotational Kinetic Energy File 522.1KB PDF document
    •  Escape Velocity File 379.8KB PDF document
    •  Power File 485.2KB PDF document
    •  Linear Momentum File 668.5KB PDF document
    •  Impulse File 496.2KB PDF document
    •  Angular Momentum File 820.5KB PDF document
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    Oscillation & Simple Harmonic Motion
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    Oscillation & Simple Harmonic Motion

    Coletta ch. 15, pp. 366–385

    Notes pp. 400–417

    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 476.5KB PDF document
    •  Springs File 535.3KB PDF document
    •  Pendulums File 458.4KB PDF document
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    Electricity & Magnetism
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    Electricity & Magnetism

    Coletta ch. 17–21, pp. : 427–587

    Notes pp. 419–507

    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 575.5KB PDF document
    •  Coulomb's Law File 488.3KB PDF document
    •  Electric Fields File 526.8KB PDF document
    •  Electrical Components File 419.9KB PDF document
    •  Circuits File 431.8KB PDF document
    •  Kirchhoff's Rules File 479.7KB PDF document
    •  Series Circuits File 594.2KB PDF document
    •  Parallel Circuits File 646.8KB PDF document
    •  Magnetism File 404.4KB PDF document
    •  Magnetic Fields File 490.6KB PDF document
    •  Electromagnetism File 278.2KB PDF document
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    Mechanical Waves & Sound
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    Mechanical Waves & Sound

    Coletta ch. 16, pp. 386–426

    Notes pp. 509–554

    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.
    •  Waves File 714KB PDF document
    •  Reflection & Superposition File 449.2KB PDF document
    •  Sound & Music File 791KB PDF document
    •  Sound Level File 378.8KB PDF document
    •  The Doppler Effect File 640.6KB PDF document
  • 13

    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.

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      Thermal Physics
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      Thermal Physics (Heat)

      Coletta ch. 12–13, pp. 293–337

      Notes pp. 555–595

      This chapter is about heat as a form of energy and the ways in which heat affects objects, including how it is stored and how it is transferred from one object to another.

      • Heat & Temperature describes the concept of heat as a form of energy and how heat energy is different from temperature.
      • Heat Transfer, Energy Conversion and Efficiency describe how to calculate the rate of the transfer of heat energy from one object to another.
      • Specific Heat Capacity & Calorimetry describes different substances’ and objects’ abilities to store heat energy. Phase Changes & Heating Curves addresses the additional calculations that apply when a substance goes through a phase change (such as melting or boiling).
      • Thermal Expansion describes the calculation of the change in size of an object caused by heating or cooling.

      This topic is part of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, but is not part of the AP Physics 1 curriculum.

      Skills learned & applied in this chapter:

      • Working with material-specific constants from a table.

      • Working with more than one instance of the same quantity in a problem.

      • Combining equations and graphs.

      •  Heat & Temperature File 569.6KB PDF document
      •  Heat Transfer File 421.8KB PDF document
      •  Energy Conversion File 512.2KB PDF document
      •  Thermal Expansion File 647.1KB PDF document