"Bolt from the Blue". Massive lightning storm over St George's during May 2017, physics in action! Photo: Adrian Cunningham.
Home >> AP Physics I

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Textbook: College Physics, 7th ed. Serway and Faughn
8  Electric Charge * discontinued since 2020 * 

9  DC Circuits * discontinued since 2020 * 

10  Mechanical Waves * discontinued since 2020 * 




The AP Physics 1 course is a new course that replaced the excellent AP Physics B course. The first exam took place in 2015. It essentially covers half the content that the old Physics B course covered, but the idea is that the concepts are examined in far more detail.
Another difference of the new syllabus is that it does not provide the usual straightforward list of topics and expectations, but is instead it is based on 'big ideas' and 'learning objectives', along with 'science practices' based on lab work.
The Big Ideas
On the whole, these "big ideas" are not terribly useful as a teaching syllabus, so in common with all the published guide books, I have divided the course into units based on specific topics. The big ideas and science practices are interwoven throughout.
Conclusion:
Essentially, the Physics 1 course is 17th and 18th century mechanics with a bit of waves and electricity thrown in. The big change for Saltus was the inclusion of rotational mechanics, which turned into a fun topic as we had to design and build a wide range of new experiments. The Physics 2 course covers the juicy, fun topics of fluids (my favourite), thermodynamics (close second), electromagnetism, optics and quantum physics.
Exam:
There is a single 3 hour long exam that will be in May 2021. The first 1.5 hours are 50 x multichoice questions and the second 1.5 hours are 5 x free response questions, one of which will be labbased. The questioning style of the final exam is quite different from the old AP Physics B. Physics B had pretty straightforward exam questions, in that it was obvious what you were asked to calculate or explain. The Physics 1 exam is more wordy and harder to figure out what they are asking for, the 2015  2019 exams had some pretty tough questions  so the new course requires a deeper understanding of how to explain concepts. (2020 was the cutdown COVID exam). Diagrams and including equations in your answers appear to be the way forward here. I am in the process of editing a lot of the old AP Physics B questions and have included more conceptual questions in the homework assignments to reflect these changes and better prepare the students for the final exam.
Another difference of the new syllabus is that it does not provide the usual straightforward list of topics and expectations, but is instead it is based on 'big ideas' and 'learning objectives', along with 'science practices' based on lab work.
The Big Ideas
 "Objects and systems have properties such as mass and charge. Systems may have internal structure." The nature of mass is key to mechanics and can thought of as a measure of the inertia (resistance to change) of an object. The property of charge is the fundamental basis of electrostatics.
 "Fields existing in space can be used to explain interactions." This is covered in units 4 and 10  gravity and electrostatics. Magnetic fields are covered only in Physics 2.
 "The interactions of an object with another object can be described by forces." This is basically all of mechanics and electrostatics.
 "Interactions between systems can result in changes in those systems." Again, this is pretty much all of mechanics!
 "Changes that occur as a result of interactions are constrained by conservation laws." The main ones in mechanics are the law of conservation of momentum and the principle of conservation of energy. The conservation of electrical charge and mass underpin Kirchhoff's Laws among others.
 "Waves can transfer energy and momentum from one location to another without permanent transfer of mass and serve as a mathematical model for the description of other phenomena." This is the Physics 1 Waves and Sound topic and a significant part of the Physics 2 course.
 "The mathematics of probability can be used to describe the behaviour of complex systems and to interpret the behaviour of quantum mechanical systems." Only used in Physics 2.
On the whole, these "big ideas" are not terribly useful as a teaching syllabus, so in common with all the published guide books, I have divided the course into units based on specific topics. The big ideas and science practices are interwoven throughout.
Conclusion:
Essentially, the Physics 1 course is 17th and 18th century mechanics with a bit of waves and electricity thrown in. The big change for Saltus was the inclusion of rotational mechanics, which turned into a fun topic as we had to design and build a wide range of new experiments. The Physics 2 course covers the juicy, fun topics of fluids (my favourite), thermodynamics (close second), electromagnetism, optics and quantum physics.
Exam:
There is a single 3 hour long exam that will be in May 2021. The first 1.5 hours are 50 x multichoice questions and the second 1.5 hours are 5 x free response questions, one of which will be labbased. The questioning style of the final exam is quite different from the old AP Physics B. Physics B had pretty straightforward exam questions, in that it was obvious what you were asked to calculate or explain. The Physics 1 exam is more wordy and harder to figure out what they are asking for, the 2015  2019 exams had some pretty tough questions  so the new course requires a deeper understanding of how to explain concepts. (2020 was the cutdown COVID exam). Diagrams and including equations in your answers appear to be the way forward here. I am in the process of editing a lot of the old AP Physics B questions and have included more conceptual questions in the homework assignments to reflect these changes and better prepare the students for the final exam.
GRADING POLICY
Grading is similar to college grading. You will be given assignments to do in class and in your own time. These will be very frequent, which is nicer to you than it sounds! It is vital to submit assignments on time for the following reasons  in no particular order:
Work is weighted. Class and short lab assignments are weighted at 20%. Homework and longer lab assignments at 30%. Tests are weighted at 50%. Tests based on AP questions tend to be 'curved' slightly to match the US transcript system. This is done using a table supplied by the college counsellor. The overall mathematical equation for your overall grade is as follows:
\[grade = 0.5\overline{T} + 0.2\overline{CW}+0.3\overline{HW}\]
So, if there are a lot of assignments, a single bad grade will tend to get hidden by the maths. Consistent bad grades will obviously become a problem.
Remember: your grades will be on your transcript for college and as Physics is an AP course, it is also slightly weighted higher than an internal course.
 I need to mark the papers simultaneously in order to spot issues that I need to address.
 I want to go through problematic questions with the class as soon as possible.
 Work submitted after I have graded the assignment, will not be graded and will score zero marks.*
 Helps you stay on top of the work.
 Helps me stay on top of my work.
 Submitting work after I have handed back other student's work is just pointless!
Work is weighted. Class and short lab assignments are weighted at 20%. Homework and longer lab assignments at 30%. Tests are weighted at 50%. Tests based on AP questions tend to be 'curved' slightly to match the US transcript system. This is done using a table supplied by the college counsellor. The overall mathematical equation for your overall grade is as follows:
\[grade = 0.5\overline{T} + 0.2\overline{CW}+0.3\overline{HW}\]
So, if there are a lot of assignments, a single bad grade will tend to get hidden by the maths. Consistent bad grades will obviously become a problem.
Remember: your grades will be on your transcript for college and as Physics is an AP course, it is also slightly weighted higher than an internal course.
Make up grades: These are grades given for extra work just before the close of the grade period to try to make up for missing work. Yeah right.... good try kiddos. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
If in doubt: remember that I have been playing this game a long time and wasn't born yesterday! In general I tend to email parents and management if I sense that an issue to starting to brew. 
* sickness dealt with on an individual basis  teacher discretion.
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