Mr. Rogers' Honors Physics

Syllabus 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
1D Motion(2)
Accel Motion(3)
1D Force(4)

Chapter 1: Fundamentals
SC Standards :

P-1.1 Apply established rules for significant digits, both in reading scientific instruments and in calculating derived quantities from measurement.
P-1.3 Use scientific instruments to record measurement data in appropriate metric units that reflect the precision and accuracy of each particular instrument.
P-1.4 Design a scientific investigation with appropriate methods of control to test a hypothesis (including independent and dependent variables), and evaluate the designs of sample investigations.
P-1.5 Organize and interpret the data from a controlled scientific investigation by using (including calculations in scientific notation, formulas, and dimensional analysis), graphs, tables, models, diagrams, and/or technology.
P-1.6 Evaluate the results of a controlled scientific investigation in terms of whether they refute or verify the hypothesis.
P-1.7 Evaluate conclusions based on qualitative and quantitative data (including the impact of parallax, instrument malfunction, or human error) on experimental results.


P-1.2 Use appropriate laboratory apparatuses, technology, and techniques safely and accurately when conducting a scientific investigation
P-1.8 Evaluate a technological design or product on the basis of designated criteria (including cost, time, and materials).
P-1.9 Communicate and defend a scientific argument or conclusion.
P-1.10 Use appropriate safety procedures when conducting investigations.





Essential Question: What is physics?
  1. Be familiar with the syllabus and the topics honors physics covers.
    • mechanics--motion, forces, mechanical energy, momentum
    • thermodynamics--heat transfer, heat engines
    • waves--sound, light, optics, etc.
    • electricity and magnetics
    • nuclear
  1. Be familiar with the job market related to physics.
    • engineer--physics is the primary science
    • computer professional-- physics is usually the primary science requirement
    • medical professionals--at the premed level the science requirements are equally weighted between physics, biology, inorganic, and organic chemistry.
    • scientist--one or more physics courses are generally required for any science major.
    • artist--as the science of sound, light, and motion, physics is also the primary science applicable to many fine arts areas.


Essential Question: Is physics true?

Models--the basis of physics

  1. Describe the nature of models.
    • Are simplified versions of reality. At some point these simplifications (sometimes called simplifying assumptions) limit their usefulness.
    • Have defined inputs.
    • Have output: predictions that are superior to random chance. The accuracy of the predictions can generally be improved by reducing the simplifications.
    • Are cost-effective. Note: costs can be money, time, environmental damage, injury or risk avoidance.
  1. Explain the differences between various types of models.
Model Example Comments
conceptual Newton's 3rd Law Built from ideas or concepts
mathematical F=ma Uses mathematical equations


A physical object or system used to represent a different more expensive or complex or less accessible system. Often these are scale models.

In medical research one species, rats are used as a model for testing drug effectiveness for a different species, humans.


  1. State the primary form of models used in physics and explain why it is particularly powerful. Mathematical: they're fast, inexpensive, and accurate.

  2. Explain the 2 major weaknesses in mathematical models that tend to introduce errors in their ability to predict outcomes.
    • Simplifying assumptions that limit their use to very specific applications.
    • Based on measured values that contain uncertainty or errors.


Homefun (formative/summative assessment):

Read chapter 1

Find an example of each of the three model types and write a brief description of it and how it is used. (Due on the 2nd day after the assignment.)


Essential Question: What is the difference between precision and accuracy?

Ways of Representing Uncertainty or Precision

  1. Explain the difference between accuracy and precision.

    • accuracy = difference between the true and estimated values. Often, the estimated value is the average of several measurements, The true value is generally unknown.

    • Precision = the lack of scatter or variability in measured values.

      High precision = low scatter

      Low precision = high scatter.

    Accuracy and Precision

    Formative assessment: Characterize the above targets as high or low accuracy and precision.

  2. State a simplified way to estimate measurement uncertainty and explain its limitations. plus or minus 1/2 (smallest scale division) -- assumes correct calibration

  3. Name a common form of error caused by the position of a person's head with respect to the measuring instrument. Parallax error. These occur in analog measuring instruments.

  4. Explain how significant digits imply a certain level of uncertainty (possible variation) in a quantity.

    Uncertainty = plus or minus 1/2 (least significant digit)

    The uncertainty of digital measuring instruments is considered to be plus or minus 1/2 (least significant digit)


Essential Question: How do you evaluate the reliability of what friends say?

Ways of Representing Uncertainty or Precision (continued)

  1. Explain the primary problem involved in calibrating measuring instruments (such as rulers or thermometers) and how it can affect measurements. Calibration is the process of making a measuring instrument give readings that match a known standard that's considered accurate. For example lab scales are often calibrated using the standard of brass weights.
  2. Standards are imperfect

    During calibration a measuring instrument has to measure the standard, which introduces measurement errors.

  3. Identify the difference between an analog and digital measuring instrument.

  4. State a simplified way to estimate the measurement uncertainty of an instrument and explain its limitations. plus or minus 1/2 (smallest scale division) -- assumes correct calibration.

  5. Name a common form of error caused by the position of a person's head with respect to the measuring instrument. Parallax error. These occur in analog measuring instruments.

  6. Explain how significant digits imply a certain level of uncertainty (possible variation) in a quantity.

    Uncertainty = plus or minus 1/2 (least significant digit)

    The uncertainty of digital measuring instruments is considered to be plus or minus 1/2 (the place value of the least significant digit)



Summative/Formative Assessment: Physics Investigation

Title Characterization of Room 134 in Beach Shoe Units
Research Question Which measurement will have the highest precision, a measure of length, area or volume?
Procedure Working with the team at your table, you will measure the width floor area, and volume of the classroom in "beach shoe" units. Your group will devise it's own procedure for doing this. Each group will record its findings to the class.
Hypothesis Record your proposed answer along with an explanation of your reasoning process.
Data, Calculations Calculate the mean and standard deviation of the entire classes data for each measurement.
Conclusions Using the above calculations, answer the research question and discuss why the data came out the way it did.

Follow up Questions

Deliverables An individual write up with the hypothesis, calculated data, and conclusions.
Resources/Materials A beach shoe.

Metacognition Problem Solving Question: Has everyone in the group made an independent calculation or observation? All the members of a group need to make the calculations or observation. When there is agreement the calculations or observations are usually right. In real life there are no answer books. Determining if a solution is right or wrong is up to you.



Essential Question: Can single a number represent both a value and the precision of a value?


  1. Apply the rules for determining the number of significant digits or figures.
    1. All non-zero numbers count.
    2. Zeros to the left of the decimal point and the 1st non-zero digit don't count. example: 07.12 has 3 sig figs
    3. All zeros to the right of the decimal count only if there are any significant figures to the left of the zeros, examples:
      number sig fig
    4. All zeros between 2 significant numbers count. example: 2007 has 4 sig
  1. Apply the addition and subtraction rules for significant figures. Perform the operation then round to the
    least significant digit with the largest value.

    Rounded for sig figs


  3. Apply the multiplication and division rules for significant figures. Perform the operation then round to the same number of significant digits as the value with the lowest number of significant digits.


    241 x 2
    = 482
    Adjusted for sig figs = 500


Relevance: Individuals who take Honors Physics will often have future careers in which they make numerically based presentations in a professional environment. Using an excessive number of significant figures is an unfortunate way of destroying one's credibility.


Essential Question: How can the answer to all calculations be 67?

Dimensional Analysis and Units

  1. State the SI base units shown below and the fact that all other SI units are derived from base units. SI units are metric units.
SI Base Units
Quantity Base Unit Symbol
Length Meter m
Mass Kilogram kg
Time Second s
Temperature Kelvin K
  1. State the meaning of the following prefixes:
micro 0.000001
mili 0.001
centi 0.01
kilo 1,000
mega 1,000,000
  1. Correctly manipulate units.

    Formative assessments:

    • How many kilometers are in a meter?

    • How many centimeters are in a kilometer?

    • How many cubic centimeters are in a cubic meter?

  2. Perform dimensional analysis.
    • It's possible to perform algebra on dimensions as though they are variables.
    • The dimensions on the left side of an equals sign must match with those on the right side.
    • When the terms in an equation are added together, each term must have identical units.
  1. Correctly identify dependent and independent variables
    • Independent variable; the condition that is deliberately altered to different values during an experiment. On graphs, the independent variable is always plotted on the horizontal axis.
    • Dependent variable: in an experiment, this is the variable that's measured in response to changes in the dependent variable. On graphs, the dependent variable is always plotted on the vertical axis.
    • Graphs are typically labeled <dependent variable> vs. <independent variable>.
  1. Identify both linear and non-linear relationships in graphs and in equations.


Metacognition Problem Solving Question: Do the units correctly match as predicted from dimensional analysis? This is a key way to make sure that your algebra is correct when making calculations.

Homefun (formative/summative assessment):

  1. Using the book or internet, list 2 linear and 2 nonlinear equations that are mathematical models in physics.
  2. Find 2 graphs of physics data on the internet, print them, and identify the dependent and independent variables on them. State whether the data plotted is linear or nonlinear.

Summative assessment: Chapter test on objectives 1 to 16 

Essential Question: How can you best prepare for the test?

Review of Objectives 1- 25 (1-3 days)

Formative Assessments:

  1. Work review problems at the board

  2. Discuss study guide

  3. Take practice test.

  4. Work online quiz

Metacognition Problem Solving Question: Can I still work the problems done in class, several hours or days later? Some amount of repetition on the exact same problems is necessary to lock in learning. It is often better to thoroughly understand a single example of a problem type than to work example after example understanding none of them completely.

Relevance: Good test preparation is essential to performance in physics class.

Summative Assessment: Unit exam objectives 1-22




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