Honors Physics

Lakewood High School IB 1/Honors Physics


     Physics is the most basic of all of the sciences because it's about the forces and energies that hold the world together. Whether we are talking about the insides of atoms or the interactions between the earth and the planets, an understanding of physics is fundamental to science.

  Honors Physics is a math intensive (algebra-based) one year course. It is designed for those who may wish to major in physical science, space sciences, mathematics, or engineeringA TI-83 plus (or higher) graphing calculator is required! 

    Physics topics are: motion and forces in one- and two-dimensional systems, pressure, momentum, energy, waves (particularly light and sound), and electricity. Students will learn how to design, conduct, and evaluate scientific investigations and effectively communicate their results. A strong emphasis is given to digital and computer technology in the science education process.    

   As you can see, Physics is full of interesting but sometimes difficult material. The material can be especially challenging when the topic requires more rigorous mathematics and  builds upon a firm understanding of a previous topic. I cannot over-emphasize the need for each student to spend several hours each week in private and corporate study (I recommend approximately 45 minutes outside of class studying and completing assignments for every 90-minute block class). I must also stress how important it is for each student to properly utilize their time in class and during office hours to keep up with what we are doing. It is the responsibility of each student to insure that they understand the material on a daily basis.

IB vs Honors
  • Both IB and honors students will be taking Honors Physics together.
  • IB students will be required to master "uncertainties" in measurement and data reporting to a level that honors students will not 
  • IB students will be required to prepare for higher level extensions using IB supplemental materials such as the IB study guide and the additional Cutnell textbook.
  • Greater emphasis on certain aspects of lab design and reporting will be required for the IA's (Internal Assessments) which IB students will be required to complete in their 2nd year of Physics.  IB students will be assessed with higher standard in certain areas critical to IB requirements (ie, experimental design, uncertainties, extensions)
  • IB Juniors will complete the "Group 4 Project"; a collaborative original research project done with their peers and presented in a public forum

The major topics covered in Physics are: 

Scientific Process -- Throughout the year, the student will be involved in laboratory investigations that require fairly rigorous data collection and graphical analysis.  Many of these labs require the use of technology in the form of data collection devices, calculators, computers and digital cameras.  Issues of precision and accuracy, lab design, and the use of math as an analysis tool are also stressed throughout the year.

Newtonian Mechanics -- We continue our study by investigating different types of motion (linear and projectile) and the forces that govern these. Our study includes vectors which we use to describe motion and forces in two-dimensional space.

Momentum -- We look at momentum as a separate topic but it is actually part of Newtonian Mechanics -- looking at the same things from a different point of view.   Rockets and potato guns make this unit particularly exciting.

Energy -- We either end the first semester or begin the second semester with a study of all types of energy, concentrating our focus on Kinetic Energy and Gravitational Potential Energy. Also we look at Work and Power.

Waves -- Here we put the previous studies together as we study waves (energy in motion) including sound, light and electromagnetic waves.

Sound -- We spend some time looking at (listening to ?) the very familiar and interesting classification of waves called sound waves.

Light -- In this unit, we study light as a wave as we use light boxes to investigate reflection and refraction. We also take a look at how lenses work (Optics) and we do some ray tracing.

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