Course title

736 Conceptual Physics



Course description

Paradise Valley Unified School District Online Course

We will study the classical areas of physics: mechanics; including kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work; energy; power; momentum; simple harmonic motion; electricity and magnetism; waves and sound; and waves and optics. We will greatly reinforce your algebra skills; your vector skills; and your ability to interpret graphs. Mostly; we will try to understand; a little better; this wonderful; amazing world of ours.

Assignments (computer-graded and teacher-graded)

Quizzes/Tests (computer-graded and teacher-graded): One attempt is given with a 60 minute time limit.

Final Exam
When you complete all of the coursework and your instructor has reviewed it; you will be given permission to take the final exam.

Role of Homework
Physics is very much a participatory sport. Reading and problems will be assigned at the beginning of each chapter; and discussed in class. There will be laboratories based on the chapters in the book and lab write-ups will be submitted for grading. I strongly urge you to keep your problems in an orderly fashion in a notebook. This notebook facilitates study for tests and final exams.

The online resource we will use is the Physics Classroom.

Tests will be given at the end of each chapter; or at the end of two chapters. Tests will count for 70 percent of your grade; laboratory and homework 30 percent.

Conceptual Physics I Fall Semester –

Unit I – Constant Motion
a. Graphing motion – position-time graphs; velocity-time graphs and acceleration-time graphs
b. Constant Velocity Calculations
*Lab – Dune Buggy Lab – Constant Velocity

Unit II - Accelerated Motion
b. Graphing motion – position-time graphs; velocity-time graphs and acceleration-time graphs
c. Mathematical relationships between displacement; velocity and acceleration
d. Freefall motion
Lab – PhET Simulations......Maze Game - Acceleration

Unit III - Motion in two-dimensions
a. Vector addition
b. Projectile motion
c. Relative velocity
Lab – PhET Simulations ….. Projectiles Simulation

Unit IV – Newton’s Laws
a. Forces and force diagrams
b. Newton’s Laws (First; 2nd and Third)
*Lab – Hooked on Gravity Lab

Unit V – Work and Energy
a. Work-Energy Theorem
b. Conservative and nonconservative forces
c. Conservation of Energy
d. Kinetic Energy; Gravitational Potential Energy and Spring Potential Energy
e. Hooke’s Law
f. Power
Lab - PhET Simulations Build-a-Park….
*Lab - . Work-Energy Lab

Unit VI – Momentum
a. Impulse
b. Conservation of momentum
*Lab - Egg Toss Lab

Physics 2 Spring Semester –

Unit I Circular Motion & Gravitational Force
a. Centripetal Acceleration & Centripetal Force calculations
b. Newton’s law of Gravity
*Labs – Circular Motion

Unit II Vibration & Waves
a. Simple Harmonic Motion – springs and pendulums
b. Waves – frequency; amplitude and wavelength
c. Speed of waves on a wire
Lab - PhET Simulations ….. Wave on a String Simulation
* Lab – Period of a Pendulum

Unit III Sound
a. Interference of waves
c. Doppler effect
d. Standing waves and Beats
*Lab – Wave Properties

Unit IV Light & Reflection
a. Speed of light
b. Law of reflection
c. Curved and flat mirrors – object distance; image distance and magnification

Unit V Refraction
a. Speed of light in different media.
b. Lenses – Converging and Diverging
Labs - PhET Simulations ….. Geometric Optics
*Lab - Speed of Light in Glass

Unit VI Electrostatics
a. Charging by conduction and induction
b. Electric Force
c. Electric Field
Labs – Electrostatics Simulation

Unit VII Current & Circuits
a. Current
b. Ohm’s Law
c. Electric Power
d. Series Circuits
e. Parallel Circuits
f. Combination series/parallel circuits
*Lab –Circuit Lab

Physics Equipment Kits -
*All labs with an asterisk are hands-on and will be performed using the equipment provided below:

1 - Constant Velocity Car
1 – Stopwatch
1 – Metric tape measure
1 – Push/Pull Spring Scale; 250 g
1 – Centripetal Force Apparatus
1 – “Slinky” Spring
1 – Refraction Glass Plate
3 – Plastic Miniature Screw Sockets
3 – Incandescent Lamps w/min Screw
1 – Marble
1 – Protractor
5 – T-pins
7 – 10 cm lengths of copper wire
12- washers
1 – 1 m length of wire (pendulum lab)
1 – 50 cm length of kite string

Example Labs


Hooked on Gravity

Determine the relationship between the mass of an object and the force of gravity on the object (its weight).

Constants: altitude = 335 m; mass of earth = 5.98 x 1024 kg

Spring scale; assorted masses (choose different small objects from around your home)

Hang masses from the scale. Record the force reading for each mass. Do not exceed the capacity of the scale. Then remove the masses repeat the same masses and again record the scale reading. Determine the average force reading to graph.

Mass added (kg) Scale Reading I
(N) Scale Reading II
(N) Avg. Reading (N)

Graph your results. Sketch the graph here; including title; axes labels; and high and low numbers.


1. Give the regression quantities for your graph; including units; where appropriate

Slope = ________ Intercept = _________

2. What does this tell you about the relationship between the variables in this lab?

3. What is the meaning of the slope?

4. The absolute value of the accepted value for the slope is 9.81 (sound familiar)? Determine a percent error for your results.

5. What would have been the weight of 1.0 kg? Extend your best-fit line or use a ratio to determine the answer.

6. On the moon; each kilogram of mass is pulled down with 1.6 newtons of weight. Add a dashed line to your graph showing the results if this activity had been done on the moon. How does the slope of the moon line compare to the slope of the earth line? Is it steeper (more vertical) or shallower (more horizontal)?

7. If the activity had been done on Jupiter; the resulting line would have had a steeper (more vertical) slope. What does this tell you about the strength of Jupiter’s gravitational field as compared to Earth’s?


Centripetal Force

What is the relationship between the centripetal force acting on an object moving in a circle of constant radius and the frequency of revolution of the object?

As long as no resultant force acts upon an object in motion it will move in a straight path. To make the object move in a circular path; a force acting toward the center of the circle must be applied to it. This force is called a centripetal force.

Centripetal force apparatus; stopwatch

Needed Information and Skills
For each rate of revolution; the radius of the path of the stopper will assume a certain value and the washers will occupy a corresponding vertical position. Whirl the stopper over your head in a horizontal circular path. Adjust the rate of revolution so that the radius of the circular path remains at the constant value so that the washers are supported by the motion. The centripetal force is furnished by the weight of the washers is now keeping the stopper moving in a circle of fixed radius. Have someone determine how long it takes for the stopper to make 30 revolutions. Find the frequency of the stopper’s motion by dividing 30 by the time taken for the 30 revolutions.
Practice this technique of measuring the frequency with the radius of the circular path set at a fixed value.
In this experiment you will keep two factors constant: the mass of the revolving object and the radius of its motion. You will vary the centripetal force applied to the object by adding washers to the lower end of the string. Since the washers are similar; the number of washers is proportional to the force they exert and can be used as a measure of the centripetal force. Then you will measure the frequency corresponding to each different centripetal force.

Gathering the Data
Start with four washers at the bottom of the line and allow the stopper to move in a radius of 50 cm. Measure the time for 30 revolutions and enter it in the table below.
Now repeat the procedure several times; each time increasing the number of washers used; by 4; until 24 washers are on the line. In each case record the time taken for 30 revolutions.


Number of
Washers Time for 30 Revolutions
(s) Frequency of Revolution
(Hz) Square of the Frequency of Revolution f2

Solving the Problem
(a) For each trial recorded in the table; calculate the frequency of revolution f and also the square of the frequency f2. Plot the number of washers on the x-axis against the corresponding frequencies on the y-axis. Make a second graph plotting the number of washers against f2.

(b) Give the regression quantities for the graph with the line; including units; where appropriate

Slope = ________ Intercept = _________

(c ) What does this tell you about the relationship between the variables in this lab?


Series and Parallel Circuits

In this lab; you will be given a battery; a small light bulb; and copper wire. By experiments;
you will develop a working understanding of how the battery and bulb must be connected so that the bulb will light. Various arrangements of the battery and bulb will be evaluated.

Circuit Diagrams -
In order to simplify your diagrams; you can use the following symbols that are common language for those people who design electronic devices.

Wire Battery Bulb or Resistor

Apparatus -
Plastic screw sockets; bulbs; copper wire; batteries

Procedure -
Part 1 - Series Circuits

Step 1: Arrange one bulb; one battery; and connecting wire in as many ways as you can to make the bulb emit light. Sketch each of your arrangements; including failures as well as successes. Also describe the similarities between your successful trials.

Sketches -

1. What do the successful arrangements have in common?

Step 2: Using a bulb in a bulb socket (instead of a bare bulb); one battery and wire; light the bulb in as many ways as you can. Sketch your arrangements an note the ones that work.

Sketches -

2. With what two parts of the bulb does the holder make contact?

Step 3: Using one battery; combine two bulbs in series and note the brightness of the bulbs. Repeat using three bulbs.

Sketch: (a) the two bulb circuit and (b) the three bulb circuit.

3. What happens to the brightness of the bulbs when you add each successive bulb?

4. Compare the brightness of the individual bulbs in (a) the two bulb circuit and (b) the three bulb circuit.

5. What happens if you unscrew one of the bulbs?

Part 2 - Parallel Circuits

Step 4: Using one battery; combine two bulb sockets in parallel and note the brightness of the bulbs. Repeat using three bulbs.

Sketch: (a) the two bulb circuit and (b) the three bulb circuit.

6. What happens to the brightness of the bulbs when you add each successive bulb?

7. Compare the brightness of the individual bulbs in (a) the two bulb circuit and (b) the three bulb circuit.

8. What happens if you unscrew one of the bulbs in this circuit?

Part 3 - Combination Series and Parallel Circuits

Step 5: Using one battery; combine two bulb sockets in parallel then connect a third bulb in series.

Sketch the complex circuit.

9. Write a complete description for the brightness of each bulb.

Part 4 - Create Your Own Circuit

Step 6: Using multiple batteries and three bulb sockets; create your own complex circuit

Sketch your circuit.

10. What happens when you add more batteries?

11. How do you think most of the circuits in your home are wired - in series or parallel? Why?

School country

United States

School state


School city


School / district Address

15002 N 32nd Street Phoenix, AZ

School zip code


Requested competency code

Lab Science

Date submitted



Approved competency code

  • LPHY
  • Physics

Approved date

Online / Virtual