Mr. Rogers' AP Physics C: E&M (with IB Physics) Objectives

Syllabus 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter IB Objectives
3rd Q objectives small investigations IB internal assessment write up specs IB rubrics  


Essential Question: How do scientists formally communicate and document their work?

Mr. Rogers' AP Physics C – Format For Formal Write-ups of Physics Investigations

Many physics investigations will not require a full formal write up, however, at least two formal write ups will be produced for internal assessment as part of the IB requirements. Carefully meeting the specifications given below will insure that the highest level of the IB rubrics are achieved.

The Basic Parts Poor Example Good Example


Titles should be precise and description. Generally, they will include scientific jargon. Avoid cute titles.

Don't Pop Your Smile

Evaluation of Bob's Cola as a cause of Tooth Enamel Damage


This section provides a short explanation of the reasons for asking the research question and briefly describes the current state of knowledge regarding the subject. It should include quotes from recognized authorities and references.

My mom says cola is bad for your teeth but Uncle Bob drinks cola and never had a cavity. This made me curious. Bob's cola company produces 27 million gallons of cola a month and uses clowns as sales representatives to appeal to children. Meanwhile the American Tooth Fairy Association (ATFA) has warned that excessive cola intake can cause cavities. Although ATFA has shown that cavities have increased by 20% since 1967, no direct link between cola consumption and cavities has been established. This study is an attempt to determine if such a lick may exist.

Research Question or Problem

The research question should be specific and testable.

Will drinking lots of pop ruin your smile?

Can regular consumption of Bob's Cola damage tooth enamel?


A hypothesis Is not an educated guess. It is a testable proposal for answering the research question that states the basis for the proposal along with basic criterion for testing. If-then statements are often a useful form for the proposal.

A hypothesis should generally start with a brief discussion of the basis for the proposal. This should include references to a literature search, previous observations, or expert opinion.

A well written hypothesis will state the independent and dependent variables along with possible lurking variable, which need to be controlled. It will also discuss any assumptions that are made in the evaluation criterion, such as assuming that the resistance of wires in an electrical circuit is negligible or that air resistance acting on a falling object is zero.


A hypothesis should contain the following elements:

  • a brief summary of  the basis for the proposal
  • the proposal--often an if-then statement--for answering the research question
  • a brief discussion of the variables involved in the experiment (independent, dependant, controlled)
  • a brief discussion of the assumptions made in the evaluation

A hypothesis should not predict the experiments outcome.

I think it will.

A literature search has indicated that Bob's Cola is acidic and that acid can dissolve tooth enamel. Bob's cola is only in contact with teeth for a brief period when swallowed but regular consumption could add up to a significant length of time teeth are exposed to the product.

Alternative 1: If soaking a tooth in Bob's cola for a prolonged period of time causes a measurable loss of tooth enamel then it's reasonable to conclude that regular consumption of Bob's Cola may damage tooth enamel.

Alternative 2: Given the acidity of Bob's Cola and the total time teath would be exposed to it with regular consumption, there is reason to believe that Bob's Cola may damage tooth enamel. This can be tested by soaking a tooth in Bob's Cola for a prolonged period.

The dependent variable will be mass of the tooth and the independent variable time immersed in Bob's Cola. The Cola will be temperature controlled to normal body temperature. It is assumed that bacteria in the mouth, saliva, or other food residues in the mouth would not alter the results.



The procedure should give enough detail so that a knowledgeable person could duplicate the experiment but does not have to include every minor detail. (Bullet statements are ok.) The equipment use should be shown in a fully labeled drawing that illustrates how the equipment was set up. Do not simply make an equipment list. The procedure must discuss how lurking variables are to be controlled.

Some Dos and Don'ts

Don't make any statement you can't support with either a calculation, empirical data, or references.

Don't use first person singular or second person pronouns (in other words "I" or "you") in the write up. This is extremely bad form for technical writing.

Don't over generalize your conclusions beyond what you have actually tested. Be specific.

Do use statistical tools such as regression analysis, confidence intervals, and hypothesis tests in your write up.

Do include photographs of apparatus and of any observations you make.

Do include supporting data, computer code, and additional analysis.

Do put a descriptive title, date, labels on each axis along with units on graphs.

Do use SI (metric) units.


PowerPoint Presentations

Do follow the above items

Do summarize and eliminate as much writing as possible.

Do make graphs large.

Don’t bore the audience with lengthy descriptions about every detail of your procedures.


Data and Analysis

Generally, present the data in both tables and graphs. Include items such as pictures, statistical analysis of the data, descriptions of computer programs, and sample calculations.


The conclusion answers the research question by evaluating the data using the proposed criterion in the hypothesis.


The researcher should summarize the basis for the conclusion, discuss possible experimental errors, and discuss how the investigation could be improved or continued in the future.


A conclusion never introduces new data or analysis.


  • answers research question
  • summarizes supporting data
  • discusses possible experimental errors
  • includes possible improvements
  • includes future work

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