Course title



Algebra I

Course description

Conceptual Physics is a course for teaching first year physics with more emphasis on concept development and how the concepts apply the students’ experiences and the world around them than on physics as a rigorous applied math course. Prerequisite: Algebra I.

Conceptual/ Honors Physics Syllabus

Our Honors and conceptual physics classes are aligned to the AP Physics 1 curricula with some slight practical modifications; including the lessening of material covered for the conceptual course. AP Physics 1 is an introductory algebra-based physics course designed to mirror a university-level first semester physics course.

Online and on-level resources will be shared/utilized. Some of these resources are created by me and other resources are externally created but we have been given permission to use them.

Overview AP Physics 1 is based on six “Big Ideas” that form the basis of the course (and classical physics in general) as well as seven scientific practices. Specific learning objectives are derived from these big ideas and practices. These objectives can be found in the official course description and will be shared in detail as they are covered/discussed in class.  Big Idea 1 – Objects and systems have properties such as mass and charge. Systems may have internal structure.  Big Idea 2 – Fields existing in space can be used to explain interactions.  Big Idea 3 – The interactions of an object with other objects can be described by forces  Big Idea 4 – Interactions between systems can result in changes in those systems.  Big Idea 5 – Changes that occur as a result of interactions are constrained by conservation laws.  Big Idea 6 – Waves can transfer energy and momentum from one location to another without the permanent transfer of mass and serve as a mathematical model for the description of other phenomena.
In addition to the six big ideas listed above; students are to also be given the opportunity to master seven vital science practices within the context of learning physics. These practices will be mastered and strengthened over course of the entire year – mainly in the laboratory setting. The seven practices require that students:  Use representations and models to communicate scientific phenomena and solve scientific problems {SP1};  Use mathematics appropriate {SP2};  Engage in scientific questioning to extend thinking or to guide investigations within the context of the AP course {SP3};  Plan and implement data collection strategies in relation to a particular scientific questions {SP4};  Perform data analysis and evaluation of evidence {SP5};  Work with scientific explanations and theories {SP6}; and  Connect and relate knowledge across various scales; concepts; and representations in and across domains {SP7}.
Access to inquiry-based lab experiences is crucial for students to truly master the seven science practices listed above. Varying levels of inquiry will be used. The ultimate goal is for students to be able to carry out open-inquiry investigations to solidify their knowledge of physics. In such investigations students are (usually) presented with a question or problem. Students must choose applicable models for the situation; what variables to investigate/measure; the needed equipment; an appropriate data collection and analysis process; and how to draw/defend appropriate/accurate conclusions that are well supported by the methodology and data. Such open-inquiry labs are marked by {OI} after the title. While desirable; open-inquiry labs cannot realistically be conducted for every single lab. Guidance will be offered in many inquiry labs. Such guided-inquiries are marked by {GI} after the tittle.

While mathematics are highly involved in physics; this course will also require students to spend extensive time reading and writing about physics. Inquiry-based labs will be used to explore various phenomenon and relationships studied throughout the year. Emphasis also be placed on experimental design; data analysis; error analysis; and statement justification. Students will critique and analyze each other’s statements and justifications.

Instructional Units 1. Kinematics {Big Idea 3} a. One-dimensional motion i. Constant velocity ii. Uniformly accelerated motion 1. Free-fall motion iii. Equation; graphical; and verbal models b. Two-dimensional motion i. Introduction to vector components and resultants ii. Simple projectile motion iii. Preview of uniform circular motion c. Labs i. “Bouncy Ball Lab” – While not fostering course content; this lab is used to introduce graphing skills; data analysis skills; and error analysis skills. {SP1;2} ii. “Tin Foil Lab” – Students determine the thickness of a piece of aluminum foil without directly measuring the thickness. Students are posed with the problem and left to design; explain; and execute the process. The purpose of the lab is to introduce measurement uncertainty in a quantitative manner. {SP2;4;5} iii. “Walker Lab” – Students design an experiment; collect and plot data to lay a foundation for understanding various graphs in kinematics. Constant and uniformly accelerated motion are explored. {SP1;2;4;5} iv. “Carts and Ramps Lab” {GI} – Students will use motion sensors to develop an understanding and draw conclusions about the relationships between displacement; velocity; and acceleration graphs. Students will make predictions and verify them with data collection and analysis. {SP1;3} v. “Free-fall Lab” – Students will collect data on various objects falling from various heights using a stopwatch and using video analysis software. Students will determine the free-fall acceleration of an object near the Earth’s surface.
Students will also investigate how different data collection processes affect the reliability of the data. Students will also investigate which assumptions are applied in their calculations and which objects best met those assumptions and under which conditions those assumptions can be counted as “valid.” {SP1;2;5;6}

2. Dynamics {Big Ideas 1;2; 3; 4} a. Types of forces and their scales of significant impact b. Newton’s Laws of Motion i. Newton’s First Law ii. Newton’s Second Law iii. Newton’s Third Law iv. Extensive application and problem solving c. Sources of forces – tension; friction; etc. (Including springs and Hooke’s Law) d. Labs i. “Resolving Forces” – Students use string; suction cups; masses; and protractors to investigate the effects that magnitude and direction of forces have on maintaining equilibrium in a system. {SP1;2;5;6} ii. “Newton’s Second Law” {OI} – Students must design execute an experiment to validate Newton’s Second Law (or at least establish a relationship between force; mass; and acceleration); explain how their data collection and analysis process validates Newton’s Second Law; and explain sources of error and uncertainty in their measurements. {SP 1;2;4;5;6} iii. “Atwood Marble Machine” {GI} – Students investigate how changing the properties of coupled masses used to launch a marble effect the marble’s trajectory. {SP1;2;3;5;6} iv. “Terminal Velocity” {OI} – Students will design and execute an experiment that investigates the effects that mass and shape of an object have on its terminal velocity. {SP1;2;3;4;5;6} v. “Friction” {GI} – Students will design and execute an experiment that allows them to investigate the relationship

School country

United States

School state


School city


School / district Address

1481 N. Eliseo Felix Jr. Way

School zip code


Requested competency code

Lab Science

Date submitted



Approved competency code

  • LADV
  • Advanced science
  • LPHY
  • Physics

Approved date

Online / Virtual