Physics 1 Course Info:
Physics 1 is an algebra-based introductory course in physics typical of a first-semester course at the college level.
In 2021, the College Board announced that the AP Physics 1 exam will only cover the topics found in units 1 through 6 shown below. Prior to this year, other topics (Waves/Sound and Introduction to Electric Circuits) were also in the suggested curriculum. Since our resources are focused on AP test prep, the course outline given below only contains the resources needed to be fully prepared for the May examination offered by the College Board.
The suggested timeframe for the course is 27 weeks, but a student can move faster through the course if desired, so that the Physics 2 course can be taken during the same school year as a follow-up to Physics 1. In this way a dedicated student can take both exams in the same year. Oppositely, a student can proceed through the course at a more relaxed pace and still be prepared for the exam in May if the course is started in September.
Physics 1 places an emphasis on the understanding of what the College Board has identified as the "Big Ideas" and "Science Process Skills and Practices" needed by students as they move forward in other science courses. This differs from the large content coverage of the old Physics B course. Due to this emphasis, the student will find many activities in the workflow of each unit that emphasize a method of learning known as "inquiry-based instruction" in which students take time to investigate physics concepts compelled by their own curiosity. Additionally, our Physics 1 course requires that students practice and learn evidence-based scientific argumentation skills as one aspect of scientific literacy. These skills are VERY important and are ALWAYS required on AP* Physics exams. Unfortunately, this emphasis is often not made in most physics classrooms, to the detriment of the student.
This does not mean that the course doesn't cover problem-solving and conceptual analysis, as each of these are crucial in the study of physics. But the emphasis on the long-term retention of knowledge is the driving force behind the activities in each unit. Successful completion of this course will thoroughly prepare the student for the AP* Physics 1 exam administered in May of each year.
Most of the equipment needed to perform the lab activities in Physics 1 can usually be found in a typical home. There may be some items that a student would like to purchase at a store or online. A lab kit that contains the items most difficult to find can be purchased at our affiliated website, myscience-prep.com. For a list of the items needed to conduct the hands-on lab activities, click here.
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Units of Study (and suggested timeframe): Click on a unit to see the workflow.
1. Kinematics (5 weeks)
2. Introduction to Newton's Laws (4 weeks)
3. Applications of Newton's Laws (4 weeks)
4. The Conservation of Energy (3 weeks)
5. The Conservation of Momentum (3 weeks)
6. Rotation and Simple Harmonic Motion (5 weeks)
Course Review and Final Exam (3 weeks, not to be attempted prior to the completion of unit 6)
Note: If a student wants to take Physics 2 in the same school year as Physics 1, the timeframes should be adjusted to be about two-thirds as long. This is certainly reasonable for a motivated and dedicated student. If a student begins Physics 1 prior to the school year (in the summer prior to school), then only minor adjustment is needed.