The course focuses on the interconnections between the various strands and units contained in the course syllabus and how each contributes to the “Big Ideas” that provide a core foundation for this science course. Problem-solving techniques and strategies are fine-tuned throughout the year, and students are continually tasked with connecting physics applications learned in different units in order to synthesize solutions to complex problems.
The course textbook was specifically chosen due to its focus on key underlying principles and modeling of physics phenomena in a manner similar to the “Big Ideas”.
Students have the opportunity to meet the learning objectives in a variety of ways and to apply their knowledge to real-world experiences and societal issues. Instructional time involves a variety of student-centered activities. Students have the opportunity to work cooperatively to solve challenging problems and to present their solutions to the class. Throughout the year connections to the world are explored in discussions, group projects, and class demonstrations. Laboratory work, described below, offers frequent opportunities to work cooperatively, explore ideas, and present information. Outside of class students read the assigned text and complete homework assignments that support and reinforce each lesson as well as what has been learned in the laboratory setting. Unit exams take place at the end of each block of instruction. Students also attend tutorial sessions where they can receive individual assistance from the instructor and work with their peers.
Students spend 25% of the instructional time engaged in laboratory work. Experiments designed by the instructor are used to demonstrate procedural guidelines and to learn how to use specific laboratory equipment. The majority of labs are inquiry based where students are given an objective and a set of materials. They are tasked with designing a procedure and collecting data to determine specific quantities, determine the relationship between variables, and/or to derive fundamental physics equations. Laboratory design, experimentation, data gathering, data presentation, analysis, drawing conclusions, and experimental error analysis are elements in these lab activities.
Laboratory work is recorded in a laboratory notebook, and students will have opportunities to present their laboratory work to their peers. All aspects of the laboratory work including any pre-lab work, question/hypothesis, experimental procedure, data, analysis, graphs, conclusion, and error analysis will be recorded. Additional information as indicated in the following pages will also be included in the lab notebook. At the end of completing the lab work for the investigations that are labeled “Guided Inquiry,” the students will present their method, data, and conclusions on whiteboards. The class will then engage in peer critique of each groups results, and discuss strategies to decrease error and suggest further investigations.