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

Syllabus 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
Vector Addition(2)
Projectile Motion(2)
Newton's Laws(3)

Chapter 2: Kinematics


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.


Practice Test Study Guide


Essential Question: Is physics true?

Models, Frame of Reference, Vectors and Scalars

  1. Introduce sylabus.
  2. State the primary form of models used in physics and explain why it is particularly powerful. Mathematical: they're fast and accurate.
  3. Explain the 2 major weaknesses in mathematical models that tend to introduce errors in their ability to predict outcomes..
    • They always have simplifying assumptions that limit their use to very specific applications.
    • They ultimately depend on measured values that contain uncertainty or errors.
  4. Explain the difference between accuracy and precision.
  5. State a simplified way to estimate measurement uncertainty and explain its limitations. plus or minus 1/2 (smallest scale division) --assumes correct calibration
  6. Name a common form of error caused by the position of a person's head with respect to the measuring instrument. Parallax error
  7. Explain how significant digits imply a certain level of certainty in a quantity. Uncertainty = plus or minus 1/2(least significant digit)
  8. Apply the rules for determining the number of significant digits.
    1. All non-zero numbers count
    2. All zeros to the right of the decimal count
    3. All zeros between 2 significant numbers count

Apply the addition and subtraction rules for significant figures.

Apply the addition and subtraction rules for significant figures.

Apply the multiplication and division rules for significant figures


Homefun: Read 2.1 to 2.3 Serway, Write a paragraph describing a scene from a sport assuming the frame of reference is on the ball

Metacognition Problem Solving Question: Can I establish upper and lower limits on the result of your calculation? Always attempt to estimate upper and lower limits on a variable in order to evaluate whether it has been correctly calculated.

In real life there are no answer books. Determining if a solution is right or wrong is up to you.


Relevance: Kinematics can be used to analyze motions in everything from athletic activities to the motion of vehicles .



Lesson 1

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 1. A model is a simplified version of reality used for predictions. A Barbie doll is a model. What things can be predicted from Barbie? In what ways is she simplified? 

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 2-3.How can a stationary wall also be moving at nearly 1000 miles per hour? What concept in physics accounted for the difference between Ptolemy's geocentric model of the universe and Galileo's model (two person groups using internet)? Both can accurately predict the location of planets in the night sky.

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 3 - 7, What is velocity? What is a vector? What is the difference between average speed and average velocity?

Resources/Materials: Barbi Doll, VCR, The Abyss video, computers for internet access.

Formative Assessment: Group and individual problem solving on white boards.


Essential Question: What is the difference between the common use of the term acceleration and the physics use of the term?


  1. For constant velocity, draw the v vs t, and x vs t curves, given various starting velocities and displacements. 3x5
  2. Define acceleration.
  3. Calculate average acceleration.

Homefun: Read 2.4 to 2.5 Serway, Questions 1 - 11 p.44-45; prob 1, 3, 5, 7, 9

Read: Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics
Chapter 7, Creative Kinematics: Explosive Entertainment, pp 99 - 115


Metacognition Problem Solving Question: Has everyone in the group made an independent calculation? All the members of a group need to make the calculations. When there is agreement the calculations are usually right.


Lesson 2
Key Concept: Even a high quality model has errors which creep in due to simplifying assumptions and experimental errors.
Purpose: Create kinematic model of an event.. 

Interactive Discussion: Objectives, What does the slope and intercepts mean on the graphs in obj. 9? Introduce lab write-up standards and the concepts of errors in the model and experimental errors. 

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 10, What is acceleration? In what types of situations would average accel differ from instantaneous accel? When would the two be equal? What does a negative acceleration mean? 

Closing:  Are models in physics accurate or are they merely adequate?

Movie Scene Analysis (3 person groups): The Abyss, Scene where Harrison falls over an underwater cliff.

  1. How could we determine if he falls at constant speed? 
  2. What is the difference between his instantaneous and average speeds?

Resources/Materials: VCR, The Abyss video, stop watches, computers for use with Excell Spread Sheets.

Formative Assessment: Group and individual problem solving on white boards.

Summative Assessment: Mini-Lab Physics Investigation (Requires only Purpose, data, and conclusion) 

Title Abyss Analysis  (groups of three)
Purpose Determine if Ed Harris could have survived his fall.
Overview Ed Harris is about 2000 ft under the ocean and must jump over the side of an under water cliff to disarm a nuclear bomb saving not just his pals but a whole species of advanced ETs  from destruction.
Data, Calculations Record the distance and time during the fall. Use an Excel Spread Sheet to graph the data and perform linear regression.
Conclusions Using the two graphs and the regression analysis describe the conditions of velocity and acceleration during the fall.
Resources/Materials: Abyss video
Essential Question: Why are constant acceleration problems so common and of such importance?

The Constant Acceleration Kinematics Equations

  1. For constant acceleration, draw the a vs t, v vs t, and x vs t curves and write equations for each. 3x5

  dropping shooting upward shooting downward
  car--red light car--green light rocket launch
  1. State the meaning of the slope at a point for the v vs t, and x vs t curves.

slope of v vs. t curve = acceleration

slope of x vs. t curve = velocity

  1. Solve constant acceleration problems in one dimension. using the kinematic equations ( 3x5  you must memorize these equations):

vf = at + vo

x = 1/2 at2 + vot + xo

Remember, the above 2 equations are only good when acceleration is CONSTANT !!!

  1. Recognize that all objects fall at the same rate of acceleration when they are in a uniform gravity field.

Homefun: Read 2.6 to 2.7 Serway, Questions 1 - 11 p.44-45; prob. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9

Metacognition Problem Solving Question: Have I drawn a picture or sketched a graph of the problem?  Pictures tend to engage additional parts of the brain not stimulated by equations.

Relevance: A constant acceleration analysis can be used for understanding why falls and car wrecks are so deadly .


Lesson 3
Key Concept: Many useful real world problems can be modeled as having constant acceleration
Purpose: Learn to solve constant acceleration problems

Answer Home Work Questions:

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 11, 12 The 2 constant acceleration equations.

In Class Problem Solving (2 person groups): Constant accel problems

  1. Bob stops the redneckmobile
  2. Toto in the well 
  3. Bambi on the highway 
  4. Robin Hood shoots a flaming arrow

Formative Assessment: Group and individual problem solving on white boards.

Summative Assessment: Mini-Lab Physics Investigation (Requires only Purpose, data, and conclusion) 

Title Analysis of human reaction time  (groups of two)
Purpose To estimate human reaction time by using a falling object..
Overview Have one person drop a meter stick between the other's fingers. Do not allow the fingers to touch the stick before it drops. Measure the distance the stick falls before being "caught". Calculate your reaction time based on 5 trials. Calculate an average reaction time for the entire class.
Data, Calculations Would it make a difference in reaction time if one of the subject's fingers were touching the stick at the time it was dropped? Explain.

How much would  reaction time affect the accuracy of the time obtained using a stop watch.

Resources/Materials: meter sticks
Essential Question: What does the slope mean?


  1. State the general meaning of a derivative.
the derivative at a point on a curve  = the slope at the point on the curve
  1. Find the derivative of a polynomial.
  2. Given x = f(t)  or v = f(t) find  v = f(t) or a = f(t).

Metacognition Problem Solving Principle: Do the number of unknowns match the number of equations? Most problems in physics are solved by simply writing enough equations so that they can be solved simultaneously.

Relevance: Derivatives are a basic tool of calculus. Physics gives derivatives a physical meaning that can be visualized, leading to a better understanding.

Lesson 4
Key Concept: The derivative is simply the slope at a point. Velocities and accelerations are both derivatives.
Purpose: Work problems using the derivative of polynomials

Answer Home Work Questions:

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 15 - 17 What is a derivative and how does it relate to physics.

In Class Problem Solving: Constant acceleration problems

  1. Batman punches accelerator
  2. Batman slams brakes 

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 18

Resources/Materials: color markers, white board.

Formative Assessment: Group and individual problem solving on white boards.

Essential Question: What does the area under a curve mean mean?


  1. State the general meaning of integration.

  2. State the meaning of the area under the curve of the a vs t and v vs t curves. (Note area under the curve is defined as area between the curve and x-axis.)

area under a vs t curve = velocity

area under v vs t curve = displacement

  1. Given a = f(t)  or v = f(t) find  v = f(t) or x = f(t).

  2. By looking at the direction of the velocity and acceleration vectors, state whether an object is slowing down or speeding up.

  3. Given mass calculate weight.

(Weight) = (mass) g

  1. Draw the the a vs. t,  v vs. t, and x vs. t curves for a dropped object when there is air resistance. Label the terminal velocity on the graph.
  2. Solve graphical kinematics problems.
  • Given a graph of acceleration vs. time solve for velocities and displacements.
  • Given a graph of velocity vs. time solve for accelerations and displacements.
  • Given a graph of displacement vs. time solve for velocities and accelerations.

Homefun: 37, 41, 49, 59, 61; p.

Metacognition Problem Solving Question: After solving an equation and performing dimensional analysis, do the units on the left side of the equation match with the units on the right side? Always list and pay attention to units. This will help prevent algebra errors.

Relevance: Integration is a basic tool of calculus. Physics gives integration a physical meaning that can be visualized, leading to a better understanding.

Lesson 5
Key Concept: The integral is simply the area under the curve. 
Purpose: Work problems using the integration of polynomials

Answer Home Work Questions:

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 19 -20 What is integration and how does it relate to physics?

Demo 1: Show carpenter's form

In Class Problem Solving: integration problems

  1. Reverse Batman punches accelerator
  2. Reverse Batman slams brakes 

Interactive Discussion: Objectives 21 -22. Why is mass not the same thing as weight?

Demo 2: Drop book with sheet of paper on top.

Resources/Materials: carpenter's form, color markers, white board.

Formative Assessment: Group and individual problem solving on white boards.


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

Review of Objectives 1- 25 (2-3 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


Summative Assessment: Formal Physics Investigation

Title Lego Robot Investigation I
Category Mechanics
Purpose Determine if a Lego Robot travels at constant velocity
Models v = dx/dt
Overview Build a Lego Robot (the design is your choice). Test it to see if it runs at constant velocity. Draw an x vs t curve and use linear regression to find a line of best fit.
Safety Issues Small plastic parts on the floor are a tripping hazard.
Equipment Limitations The small motors will burn up if they are connected to a power source and not allowed to turn freely.
Resources/Materials: Lego Robotics kit, meter sticks, stop watches, masking tape

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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!


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