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SCP612: AP Physics B (2012-2013)

CURRICULUM PROGRAM: Advanced Placement
CALENDAR YEAR: 2012-2013

About the Program:
AP Physics B provides an orderly development of the fundamental concepts and principles of physics with an emphasis on inquiry and critical thinking skills including problem solving, mathematical reasoning, and experimental investigations. Topics of study from classical and modern physics include Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics and thermal physics, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Laboratory work is an integral component of this course. Technology including graphing calculators, probe ware, graphing and data analysis software, and physics apparatus is used throughout this course.

Though our system has an open enrollment policy, students should understand that this course is designed to be a second year physics course, and the equivalent of a yearlong introductory, algebra-based, college level physics course. The course requires a working knowledge of physics, algebra and basic trigonometry. The breadth, pace and depth of material covered exceeds the standard high school Physics course, as does the college-level textbook, laboratory work, and time and effort required of students. This course provides the physics foundations for college majors in the life sciences, pre-medicine, applied sciences, and non-science fields. AP Physics B provides a more conceptual understanding and approach than AP Physics C. Students are expected to take the AP Physics B Exam at the end of this course.

Laboratory Requirement: Students who take this course spend a minimum of 30% of their time engaged in hands-on laboratory exercises.

Major Concepts/Content: The Physics B course is a college-level course which differs from a high school Physics course in terms of depth of coverage, the type of laboratory work and time commitments for study. Physics B course introduces the main principles of physics and emphasizes the development of problem-solving ability. Strong emphasis is placed on solving a variety of challenging problems requiring algebra and trigonometry, and basic concepts of calculus. The topics in Physics B are detailed in the Physics B course description, which is available on AP Central (

Course Objectives:

  • To understand the fundamental concepts and principles of physics through the investigation of physical phenomena, theories and experimental methods.
  • To develop problem solving skills, and mathematical reasoning, through the active asking and answering of testable questions, and employing the components of a well-designed experimental investigation.
  • To foster scientific habits of mind including curiosity, creativity, and objectivity.
  • To understand the interconnections of physics to the other sciences, society, culture, and technology.

Course Philosophy: Scientific inquiry is the basis of this course. Scientific inquiry is defined as the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Scientific inquiry also refers to the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world (NSTA, 2004). This includes active use of the well-designed investigation in which students: 1) form testable questions and hypotheses, 2) design and conduct appropriate investigative procedures, including the identification and control of appropriate variables, 3) organize, display and critically analyze results, 4) draw inferences, summarize results and develop conclusions, and 5) communicate their results for critique by others. Based on the philosophy that scientific knowledge is best acquired through inquiry, the course uses a variety of techniques to promote inquiry in the classroom (ex. multiple revisions, high quality questioning, synthesis, making conclusions based on evidence, etc).

Instruction is designed and sequenced to provide students with learning opportunities in the appropriate settings. They include laboratories, classrooms, forms of technology, and field studies. Teaching strategies include in depth laboratory investigations, demonstrations, collaborative peer-to-peer discussions, and student hands-on experiences. Inquiry requires adequate and timely access to the technology of scientific investigations including computers, internet and online resources, probe ware, graphing calculators, databases, spreadsheets, word processes and presentation software, as well as the experimental apparatus of physics.