Hey, Ms. F,
what exactly IS Physics? Glad you asked!
In Physics we study many of the interactions
between matter and energy in our universe. So in some not-so-scientific
terms, here's a general glimpse into what is studied in our physics classes, and
some questions that will get answered:
things move, and how to describe that movement. For example, what is the
difference between positive and negative acceleration? Does the mass of an
object affect how quickly it will fall? Visualizing motion, and then being
able to calculate values associated with the motion is a fundamental part of any
* Forces--why is it harder to
start to move something than it is to keep it going once it's moving? How
does Earth's gravity affect our lives every day? What does it mean to "do
work"? Why is it harder to stop a car when you are traveling DOWN a
hill, and harder to start a car when you are traveling UP hill? What
happens when you go sky diving?
* Energy Transformations--We'll
look at how mechanical energy can do work, and how we can change an object's
energy by applying work! For example, why exactly is it that a roller
coaster's first hill is always the highest one? What would happen if a
hill further down the track were higher?
* Momentum and collisions--Ever
notice that a large truck is easy to pass when you're accelerating from a stop?
or that when two football players collide, it's not just their size (mass) that
determines if a tackle is successful (and which direction they fall)?
*Waves--have you ever watched
surfers ride waves? Have you ever been in a wave pool? How does the
water behave when a wave passes through it? What's a tsunami? What
are we feeling when we are in an earthquake? Just a few questions that
will rise to the surface!
*Acoustics--do you play a musical
instrument? Have you ever noticed that your voice sounds funny when you
talk under water? Or that in the movies, people put their ears to the
ground (or railroad tracks) to hear distant sounds approaching? Why is
(note--general physics only)--have you ever noticed the
lights on stage at a theatrical performance? Have you ever really looked
at the colors in newspaper pictures, or on your computer screen? Have you
ever wondered how astronauts can hear in space (yes, that's related to light!)?
Do you think you couldn't live without your high-speed internet with fiber optic
cables? Or do you enjoy looking in the mirror? or at rainbows? Our
light unit can be a very illuminating learning experience!
Other topics that are touched on, depending on the course, are:
* Rocketry (General physics only)--We
will be studying the mechanics of rocket flight and construction, AND we will
each be building our own rocket from a kit and launching it at the baseball
* Nuclear and atomic physics (IB Physics 1 and 2)--One
of the units that touches on a bit of chemistry (hey--it's ATOMic physics...of
course we're dealing with atoms and nuclei!) but not in the sense of
chemical reactions! Nuclear physics is a part of what is known as "Modern
Physics". The sun's energy is a result of nuclear fusion; many power
plants around the world create energy through controlled nuclear fission
reactions; World War II with Japan culminated with the use of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear science is all around us, and not just in power and weapons. Smoke
detectors in your home even use nuclear science to work!
* Electricity and Magnetism (In IB Physics 1 and 2):
What would your life be like without electricity? We take so much about
electricity for granted: battery powered toys and gadgets; the battery in
your car; the outlets your alarm clock and hair dryer plug into; even the shock
you get when you walk around the house in your socks! We take magnetism
for granted, too--what are some things that use magnets in your house? You
may be surprised!
* Thermodynamics (In IB Physics
1 and 2): More than just studying how heat energy is transferred and
what it can do (for example, how much heat energy is used when making ice
cubes?), we also look at how engines work and how heat energy can be used to do
* Quantum and Particle Physics (In IB Physics 2):
Another topic of "Modern Physics"--Particle physics really is what's happening
at the forefront of physics. Quarks, gluons, and mesons--Oh my!
We're going to be studying some pretty fascinating physics in this unit.
* Astrophysics (In IB Physics 1 and/or 2):
A general overview of our universe--the Solar System, galaxies, stars, quasars,
and even black holes (in year 2).