Description | The physics class starts with mechanics (how forces affect motion). The mechanics concepts we’ll work on are much simpler than those of the other science classes – so much so that the students are mostly learning to apply what they already know. For example, motion analysis is based on the concepts of time, distance, graph paper to describe position, and some geometry, trigonometry, and algebra. Contrast that with a chemistry concept like atomic orbital shape and its effect on the behavior of a material. A high school student has little or no chance of figuring that out from prior knowledge. The challenge in physics is imagining the problem and figuring out how to use your prior skills in a new context to solve the problem, usually with multiple steps.
Progress usually comes on a different schedule for different students. As the problems become more advanced, the same skills are often used in parts of the new problems. Student who are not up to date will have to keep working mostly on prior skills, although with some exposure to the new concepts. Because students make progress at different rates, and because the class is much more about skill development than learning facts, we’ll emphasize guided individual and group projects (with some lab work) much more than lectures and tests. The priority is getting it right rather than moving on to other topics on a fixed schedule. At some point, students will be exposed to additional topics such as electrical physics, materials and thermal physics, and vibrations. Those who have mastered the basics of mechanics can also start to solve problems involving those additional topics. |