Mr. Rogers' Syllabus for AP Physics C: Mechanics (With IB Physics Topics)

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Common Syllabus

Mr. R's Home

Southside High


1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

4th Quarter


A parent or guardian for each student is asked to send Mr. Rogers an e-mail as follows:
  • Subject: AP Physics Mechanics <your student's name>
  • Please indicate your name inside the e-mail body.

Mr. Rogers will use this for communicating information during the year.

Click here for an abbreviated syllabus on the official school letterhead.


Contact Information:

  Instructor   Mr. Rogers
  Room   134
  Phone   355- 8737
  tutoring   Southside High School Physics Club
  Availability  rm 134 at lunch time, after school: Tues, Thurs, Fri

What to Expect:

You have begun a mental journey to an exciting new territory -- the world of physics. Like mountain climbing the journey takes effort and self discipline but the view can be awesome. Physics is not just a collection of facts. It is the search for the basic principles behind the facts.

These principles are often expressed as mathematical equations or models which makes applied physics or engineering amazingly effective for designing and improving equipment. Computers, for example, double in power every 18 months due to the fact that they're designed using applied physics.

Your reward for venturing into the world of physics will be a sharper mind and deeper understanding.

This is a calculus based, college level, physics class which covers mechanics for the American College Board AP Physics C Mechanics . Students passing this test may receive college credit. In addition, this class begins a two year course Physics course which covers the entire AP Physics C curriculum, as well as the IB Physics HL curriculum. The test schedule is as follows:

  Year Test
  1 AP Physics C Mechanics
  2 AP Physics C E&M
    IB Physics SL or HL
The Psychology of Physics Problem Solving
A teacher can guide students through a complex physics problem merely by asking questions. By learning to ask questions of yourself, you can gain the same level of problem solving skill without having a teacher present. It's called metacognition and is a skill you will acquire.
Powerful physics problem solvers also frequently use a type of free association. By learning to associate small hints with a corresponding physics principle, they can often visualize an equation for a problem even before they have fully read it.  Again it's a skill that can be learned.

The Intellectual Challenge

In college, physics is generally considered an intellectually challenging course. Correlations between the combined PSAT math and verbal scores with the passing rate in AP Physics bears this out.   However, AP Physics Mechanics has an advantage over the equivalent college course in that it takes an entire year to present what would be considered a semester of material in college.


Rules, Policies, Grading Scale

This information is common to all of Mr. Rogers' classes. Click here for details.


Resources and Materials for Class

Textbook : Mr. Rogers will provide the following books:

Physics for Scientists and Engineers
by Raymond A. Serway, John W. Jewett
  • Publisher: Brooks Cole; 6 edition (July 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0534408427

How to Prepare for the AP Physics C
by Robert A. Pelcovits, Joshua D. Farkas


Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics
by Tom Rogers (Yes, Mr. Rogers will provide a copy of his book for use in the class and yes, there will be reading assignments in it.)


Web Page Resources Provided by Mr. Rogers
All of the following are maintained by Mr. Rogers and can be reached via links from his teacher homepage.
  1. Objectives: The daily objectives used in class along with homework assignments are all available online
  2. Practice Tests: Self scoring online practice tests complete with explanations of the answers are available for each unit. In addition practice test questions without answers are also available online. You should have no surprises when you take tests.
  3. Study Guides: Study guides are available online for each unit. These include the equations you must learn, problem solving tips, important concepts, vocabulary lists, and example problems to help you succeed on tests.
  4. Movie Physics: Mr. Rogers maintains a web site with all kinds of movie physics information to assist you in your enrichment assignments.
Physics Software
Interactive physics software will be available in the physics classroom for conducting simulations and confirming solutions to problems

Materials for Class Provided by the Student

  1. A USB thumb drive or other storage media for maintaining your electronic portfolio of physics assignments.We will attempt to be as close to a paperless classroom as possible.
  2. A set of dry erase markers. You will frequently be working problems in class on a white board.
  3. A package of 3x5 cards: Starting immediately, each student will, over the course of the year create a set of flash cards to use as a study aid.
  4. A graphing calculator
  5. Cracking the AP Physics C Exams, 2012 Edition (College Test Prep) (Paperback)
    by Princeton Review , $38.07 from, can generally also be purchased locally.
    If a newer edition is available please buy it instead. Note this book can be used for both years.



Grading and Assignments

Grading: (For details see Mr. Rogers' Syllabus - Information Common to All Classes.) Tests will be the single largest item and  will be written as close to AP exam standards as possible. Course work will generally be finished in the third quarter leaving the rest of the year for review and various physics investigations (labs). The first semester exam will be taken directly from old AP tests. The exam grade will give you an indication of your standing on the future AP exam in enough time to take corrective action if needed. The fourth quarter grade will consist primarily of practice AP test grades. Generally, there is a high correlation between the practice exams and your grade on the AP test.

Group IV Project: All juniors have to participate in a group IV project to meet the school's IB standards. This requires a minimum of 10 hrs of time outside of class and requires a student to design, conduct, and analyze a physics experiment as part of a team. Students must keep a log of their time and turn it in. The project is to be presented as a science fair project with a backboard. Projects deemed worthy will be sent to the regional science fair and earn extra credit. The first day-long meeting to select projects will be held in the Southside Media Center on November 18, 2011.

Physics Investigations - Labs: We will be spending a significant part of our instructional time on various forms of practical activities. These will include formal lab write ups, mini-labs (informal write ups), computer simulation labs (Interactive Physics), and a few after school labs. We will also analyze several Hollywood movie scenes in class. Many investigations will be conducted with computerized data collection using a wide range of Vernier Lab equipment, video analysis, and sophisticated devices like air tracks and radio controlled robots. Other labs will use old fashioned meter sticks, stop watches, pendulums, spring scales etc. At least some of the labs will be designed by students.

Deliverables from physics investigations will be submitted in electronic form in the AP Physics folder on the students virtual drive.

Enrichment Assignment: You cannot master physics if you only think about it in the classroom. To encourage physics thinking in everyday life, once per quarter you are to review a Hollywood movie scene for physics content. The review will contain the following:

  1. The movie's title and main stars.
  2. A summary of the scene (about one good paragraph)
  3. A summary of the scene's physics (about one good paragraph)
  4. At least one calculation related to the scene's physics

To analyze movies you will have estimate many of the parameters used in your calculation, often based on the size of objects in the movie. Estimating is a real world skill which is often required for major engineering projects.

The analysis is to be submitted via the school's computer network as a computer file one week before the end of each quarter and will count as a lab grade. The file is to be labeled with the movie name and your name and can be either be an a Microsoft Word or Excel file.

Class Work
You cannot master physics by watching Mr. Rogers work problems, hence, you will be going to the front of the classroom and working problems on the white board in groups of 2 on a regular basis. Guided practice of this type is a powerful learning opportunity. In this class you will think physics, talk physics, write physics, and yes at times even help teach physics to your fellow classmates.

The AP Exam:

The Exam will be given on Monday May 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm. You must arrive 30 minutes early. The exam lasts 90 minutes and Consists of two parts: 45 min. for 35 multiple choice questions and 45 min. for three free response.

AP tests are graded on a scale of 1 to 5 with 3 considered passing.


Summer Assignments for New Students

Who Should Take this Class: Students with highly developed algebra skills and an interest in careers related to: engineering, the computer professions, medicine, physics, chemistry, or math.

Credit: One unit of lab science

Prerequisites: Honors Physicsand AP Calculus concurrent or math teacher recommendation and parent override. A PSAT score in math of 60 or higher is a strong sign that you have the background needed to succeed in this course, but is not a requirement.

Use of Calculus: This course does make significant use of calculus, however, it's limited to relatively simple applications. On the other hand, a high level of skill in algebra is essential.

How to Succeed on AP Tests

Extra Credit: Your participation in the science fair is the only way to earn significant extra credit in AP Physics, but it has many added benefits. Over the years, Southside students have won thousands of dollars worth of prizes. Some have gone on to the Intel International Science Fair where they've met hundreds of people from around the world including Nobel Laureates. The two Southside students in the picture at right are with Nobel Laureate (Physics) and best selling author Leon Lederman.

Click here for more Science Fair info


Safety Rules/Procedures

All students are required to be familiar with the following:

Tool Safety Rules: Details rules for the safe use of the tools and devices found in room 134.

Medical Incident Procedures: Details procedures to be followed in a  medical incident such as fainting, allergic reaction, sudden illness, injury, etc.


Course Outline

The following is offered as a general indication of how the class will be paced. Adjustments will be made as needed.

First Quarter:

Unit I. Kinematics Chap 2
Start 08 -19 End  09 - 04 Days 10
Objectives/ Standards Motion in one dimension  Assessment  Exam


Unit II. Vectors Chap 3
Start 09 - 07 End 09 - 18 Days 10
Objectives/ Standards vector algebra, components of vectors Assessment  Exam


Unit III. Projectile Motion Chap 4
Start 09 - 21 End  10 - 02 Days 10
Objectives/ Standards  Motion in two dimensions including projectile motion Assessment  Exam


Unit IV. Newton's Laws Chap 5
Start 10 - 02 End 10 - 23 Days 15
Objectives/ Standards 1.Static equilibrium (first law) 
2.Dynamics of single particle (2nd law) 
3.Systems of two or more bodies (3rd law) 
Assessment  Exam


Second Quarter

Unit V. Friction Chap 5
Start 10 - 26 End 11 - 06 Days  
Objectives/ Standards Newton's laws of motion (friction) Assessment  Exam


Unit VI. Mechanical Energy Chap 7 & 8
Start 11 - 09 End 12 - 04 Days 16
Objectives/ Standards

C. Work, energy, power

F. Oscillations and gravitation 
    1.Simple harmonic motion
    2.Mass on a spring 
    3.Pendulum and other oscillations 

Assessment  Exam


Unit VII. Linear Momentum Chap 9
Start 12 - 07 End 12 - 18 Days 6
Objectives/ Standards

D. Systems of particles, linear momentum

  1. Center of mass
  2. Impulse and momentum
  3. Conservation of linear momentum, collisions
Assessment  Exam



1st Semester Exam Review

Start 01 - 04 End 01 - 11 Days  
Objectives/ Standards The 1st semester exam will be a multiple choice AP Exam appropriately curved, yielding an early prediction


Third Quarter

Unit VIII. Gravity Chap 12
Start 01 - 20 End 02 - 02 Days 10
Objectives/ Standards F. Oscillations and gravitation 
    4. Newton's law of gravity 
    5.Orbits of planets and satellites
        a. Circular 
        b. General 
Assessment  Exam


Unit IX. Circular Motion Chap 6
Start 02 - 03 End 02 - 10 Days 7
Objectives/ Standards E. Circular motion and rotation 
    1. Uniform circular motion 
Assessment  Exam


Unit X. Statics Chap 12
Start 02 - 11 End  02 - 18 Days 5
Objectives/ Standards
E. Circular motion and rotation
2. Torque and rotational statics 
Assessment  Exam


Unit XII. Rotation Chap 10 & 11
Start 02 - 19 End 03 - 19 Days 16
Objectives/ Standards
E. Circular motion and rotation 
3. Rotational kinematics and dynamics
4. Angular momentum and its conservation
Assessment  Exam


Unit XIII. IB Energy Production Chap  
Start 02 - 03 End 02 - 10 Days 6
Objectives/ Standards Topic 8: Energy, power and climate change Assessment  Exam


Fourth Quarter

Unit Review for AP Exam
Start 03 - 22 End 05 - 03 Days 26
Objectives/ Standards # 5 on AP Exam

Following the AP exam, students will still be required to attend class including the day of the semester exam even though students will not be required to take a semester exam if they have taken the AP Test. We will cover IB Physics HL topics in thermodynamics and wave mechanics and perform physics experiments.



Extra Credit

AP physics students can normally not receive extra credit. The exception is credit for major projects depending on their complexity and quality. A major well done project can receive up to 10 points extra credit in more than one quarter. 10 extra credit points will normally raise a grade by about 2 to 3 percentage points.

All extra credit is due one week before the end of the quarter it is counted in.

Major Projects

  1. Intel Science Talent Search A completed research paper (similar to a science fair project) must be submitted along with the required forms by Nov 5th. This contest hands out over a million dollars worth of scholarships to about 340 people. It is an excellent opportunity (seniors only).
  2. Regional Science Fair: The idea is due by Oct 1st, the experimental work is to be completed before Christmas break, and the total project completed by January 31st.
  3. Design and build a significant piece of equipment for use in physics classes.








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Check out Articles by Mr. Rogers:

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics is one of the most humorous, entertaining, and readable physics books available, yet is filled with all kinds of useful content and clear explanations for high school, 1st semester college physics students, and film buffs.

It explains all 3 of Newton's laws, the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics, momentum, energy, gravity, circular motion and a host of other topics all through the lens of Hollywood movies using Star Trek and numerous other films.

If you want to learn how to think physics and have a lot of fun in the process, this is the book for you!


First the web site,

now the book!

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