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IB Physics SL+HL (Two Years) (2018-2019*) *year 1 of 2



  • An introduction to the mathematical modeling of simple motion, including the concepts of average speed and Cartesian coordinates for recording direction
  • Homework - Read (and solve all problems in) Chapter 1 of Perrone's book


  • Graph the motion of a toy car and make sense of the trendline; draw and interpret various position and velocity graphs


  • Define acceleration and derive the kinematic equations
  • Analyze accelerated motion data in a spreadsheet
  • Homework - Read pp. 27-38 in the Oxford book (pay close attention to the Worked examples)


  • Quiz
  • Graph the accelerated motion in the spreadsheet above; interpret the trendlines
  • Practice interpreting trendlines and using the extracted (velocity and acceleration) information to interpolate and extrapolate (file 1file 2)
  • Homework - complete interpolation and extrapolation practice problems


  • Review the writings of Aristotle and Galileo on the nature of falling objects (and the existence of void)
  • Practice solving motion problems
  • Homework - complete the 10 Kinematics Problems (partial key) and read pp.5-13 in Perrone's book, Chapters 3 & 4; you don't need to solve problems in the book


  • Discuss uncertainties in measurement
  • Conduct laboratory investigation in which we determine the rate of gravitational acceleration
  • Homework - read Section 1.2 in the Oxford book; install Logger Pro













  • Linearize data (spreadsheet)
  • Complete data collection and analysis for free fall lab
  • Homework - type up the Exploration portion of the lab; try to linearize the data (6th pd) and find the min and max gradients (both 5th and 6th pds); the video above helps with the mins and maxes; 6th pd - linearization is explained in this video (watch from 3:00 to 5:50), what she does to charge, you should do to time


  • Complete the free fall lab
  • Practice interpreting motion data
  • Homework - the finished lab is due Thursday the 13th at midnight; submit it using


  • turn in the lab using (by midnight)
  • Analyze the motion of a tossed ball using a motion detector and Logger Pro (instructions)
  • Analyze motion with Algodoo (instructions) -- you can download Algodoo from the school's Software Center or find it free online
  • Homework - answers to 4 practice problems on wall


  • test over material to date
  • Homework - read pp. 39-43 in the Oxford book and sections 3.2.1, 3.2.3, 3.3.4 and 4.5 (no practice problems) in my book (Chps 3-4) (read for comprehension)


  • Discuss relative motion and its relevance to projectile motion
  • Model projectile motion



  • Analyze the motion of an Angry Bird; is it on Earth?
  • Analyze projectile motion graphs
  • Study (1D) free fall in more detail here
  • Homework - complete the packet of projectile "nTIPERs"


  • quiz over free fall and projectile motion
  • Homework - read all of Section 5.1 in your new booklet
  • Pay for the field trip!


  • discussion of the Laws of Nature (PowerPoint)
  • Homework - read Section 5.2 and do Section 5.3 in my book


  • Scientific Laws and What They Say: read me
  • Review Newton's 1st and 2nd Laws
  • Discover the various types of forces that operate in our world (follow this guide and answer questions in your class notebook)
  • Homework - complete the handout in which you explain something about graphs, and read the short essay, Scientific Laws and What They Say


  • Laboratory investigation of Newton's Second Law (using Method 2)
  • Homework - read and take notes on pp. 44-51 in the Oxford book, and read pp. 21-30 in my book (do the included practice problems)


  • complete data analysis for the Second Law lab
  • practice drawing free-body diagrams
  • Homework - read pp. 58-60 in the Oxford book (in preparation for indoor skydiving); read pp. 31-45 in my book


  • Field trip to iFLY!










  • discuss what we need to do to fix our lab data; the lab will then be due Sunday at midnight through
  • discuss the gravitational force and weightlessness
  • draw and label free-body diagrams
  • Homework - complete and turn in the lab; finish the hand-drawn handout; do pp. 45-56 in my book (read as needed, solve all problems)


  • practice drawing free-body diagrams, then working out (quantitatively) the forces upon and acceleration of an object


  • model a box hanging from two wires; review for the quiz


  • quiz over free-body diagrams and working out (quantitatively) the forces upon and acceleration of an object
  • Homework - complete handout; read pp.63-64 in my book


  • review the homework; discuss Newton's 3rd Law of motion
  • Homework - read pp. 62-64 in the Oxford book







  • design a lab to measure the coefficients of friction between two materials; due Sunday Monday night through
  • define work and energy and discuss their relationship
  • Homework - complete the "design a lab" activity by Monday night; read section 4-1 and the paragraph around equation 4.3 and section 4.3 in the blue "Conservation of Energy" packet, which was written by Richard Feynman; read 4-4 if you want to


  • complete two assignments: a data analysis problem from an IB paper and the "Dynamics Problems"
  • Homework - complete the aforementioned assignments


  • test
  • Homework - finish up the two assignments from 11/6; use your Oxford book, section 1.2, as reference for the IB paper problems


  • relate work to kinetic energy
  • calculate work (and change in kinetic energy) from a force-position graph
  • Homework - review the answer key for the Dynamics Problems; complete the handout on force-position graphs and the stapled packet (minus the last piece of paper)


  • 5th pd: review the data analysis problems from the IB paper (first assigned on 11/6)
  • discuss (gravitational) potential energy
  • solve problems involving potential energy, kinetic energy, and work from friction or other sources
  • Homework - finish the (nTIPERs) packet; do the three hill problems; review for the quiz
  • Answer Keys: nTIPERs packet; handout on force-position graphs












Coming Up: A few days after returning from Thanksgiving break, I will assign "the mousetrap car project", in which you will need to design and build a small car powered by a single mousetrap. The project also includes a video recording of you explaining the physics behind the car's operation. Stay tuned! They're pretty fun to build and race! [project details] - video help

Lab Report Format

finding the minimum and maximum gradients

with Logger Pro

Practice matching motion to graphs with this interactive.

Apollo 15 (1971)

And I'm free, free fallin'

help with reading projectile motion graphs
iFLY indoor skydiving



Scientific Proof is a Myth, by Ethan Siegel, - article

click on me

You may not want to click here. You could find yourself lost for hours or days. Swimming in a sea of fascinating ideas. You could lose track of time. You might also begin to understand time.
M.C. Escher's Waterfall
No Girls Allowed


  • discuss elastic potential energy and energy conversions in a swinging pendulum
  • elastic potential energy problems
  • energy questions (due, for a grade, on Dec 3; turn in typed responses)
  • Homework - read about propagation of uncertainty (pp. 12-14) in your Oxford book and complete this handout; also complete the elastic potential energy problems


  • determine the coefficient of kinetic friction in the lab using energy analysis, with a particular focus on uncertainties and propagation of uncertainty
  • review homework
  • define and calculate power, or rate of energy transfer
  • the Mousetrap Car Project is to be completed at home and turned in Dec 17 (the car should be brought to class and the video should be submitted here)
  • Homework - complete the energy questions; also complete the power worksheet and the IB free fall problem


  • define momentum and impulse; calculate impulse from a force-time graph (practice)
  • Homework - complete the impulse-momentum worksheet (key)


  • use the principle of momentum conservation to model two-body collisions and explosions
  • Homework - complete the momentum practice problems (key) and these IB momentum problems; read pp. 73-79 in your Oxford book


  • Conservation of Momentum lab (due 12/13 on


  • quiz on impulse and momentum and uncertainty calculations
  • Homework - read pp. 80-86 in your Oxford book


  • discussion of internal (thermal) energy (PowerPoint)
  • the Conservation of Momentum lab is due through


  • test the mousetrap cars (the video is due and must be submitted here)
  • create a concept map for Unit 2 (assignment)


  • review for midterm (pp.87-90, omit 13.a, and pp.24-26 #7-9,13-15)
  • Homework - complete the review in your textbook
  • answer key for pp.87-90; #6: T1 and T2 are switched
  • I also want you to review the feedback on your momentum labs


  • midterm




  • calendar for Spring Semester (*subject to change)
  • review of thermal concepts
  • Homework - complete the worksheet; read Unit 3.2 in your book


  • review the homework; discuss pressure
  • Boyle's Law Lab
  • Homework - complete the worksheet and watch video1 and video2


  • solve thermal physics problems, including Ideal Gas Law problems
  • measure the efficiency of a microwave oven
  • answer key for book problems
  • Homework - complete the problems on pages 113-114 and read the handout on the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics


  • quiz over thermal concepts
  • discuss entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics [1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5]


  • intro to circular motion; Centripetal Force lab
  • Homework - finish the lab; watch this video

2.4 Momentum

Unit One-Page Overviews

1.1 Measurements in physics

1.2 Uncertainties and errors

1.3 Vectors and scalars

2.1 Motion

2.2 Forces

2.3 Work, Energy, and Power

Putting the I in IB!



EF Tours - Japan


Stay tuned for news of a potential trip for Summer 2020.


Because where else can you find 40 different flavors of Kit Kat?

internal energy

Unit One-Page Overviews

3.1 Thermal Concepts

3.2 Modelling a gas


6.1 Circular Motion


Enroll in the trip of a lifetime! Join the IB Senior Trip to Japan in the Summer of 2020. An informational meeting for parents (and students) will be held January 30th at 6 pm in room 1403. RSVP, please.


  • analyze circular motion (horizontally and vertically); distinguish between centripetal and centrifugal force
  • Homework - read Unit 6.1 and complete the worksheet on circular motion


  • model satellite motion (handout)
  • discuss artificial gravity
  • Homework - complete handout/packet (answer key)


  • quiz on circular motion


  • introduction to simple harmonic motion; begin big Oscillations packet
  • Homework - complete Oscillations packet [answer key] and read Unit 4.1


  • study SHM of a pendulum; pendulum lab
  • Homework - pendulum worksheet; the lab is due Monday 2/11; read pp. 354-355, 358 (Simple harmonic systems) -361 in Unit 9.1

4.1 Oscillations

4.2 Travelling Waves

right: this video shows how a wave is comprised of out-of-phase particles, each exhibiting SHM


left: click on the image to open an online simulation of a ripple tank; use the simulation to study wave behavior, including reflectionrefraction and diffraction





  • derive the equations for the period of a mass-spring system and pendulum; derive the equation for the energy in an oscillating system
  • IB oscillation practice problems
  • Homework - complete practice problems, complete Pendulum Lab, and read Unit 4.2 


  • discuss the properties of waves (notes sheet with problems)
  • observe the properties of waves with a Slinky
  • the Pendulum lab is due through
  • Homework - read Unit 4.2, if you haven't already


  • quiz on simple harmonic motion and basic properties of a wave
  • Homework - watch the video on EM waves here and examine this photo
  • you need to start working on your IA research topic; think about it, do some online research - you must submit your topic to me no later than Feb 22; the IA Exploration rough draft is due Feb 28 Mar 4


  • EM waves || Polarization || Malus's Law 
  • 3Blue1Brown video || LCD screens use polarized light
  • polarization (Malus's Law) practice problems (key)
  • Homework - read pp. 135-137 in your book; corrections to the graphing, data analysis and uncertainty calculations portions of your Pendulum Lab must be completed and submitted by 2/22
from a 3Blue1Brown video

Old army video on the workings of AM and FM radio.




  • ACT testing


  • discuss wave behavior (reflection, refraction, total internal reflection)
  • experimentally test Snell's Law
  • IA topics are due; corrections to your pendulum lab are due -- both through
  • Homework - complete these problems, mostly on refraction; use your textbook and Google as reference (but don't just look up answers) -- #4 and #7 use the concept of critical angle, which you can read about on p. 150


  • review Snell's law, critical angle and total internal reflection; discuss wave superposition (5th only)
  • total internal reflection (TIR) in fiber optic cables (video)
  • the physics of mirages
  • the physics of rainbows (presentation, simulation)
  • Homework - read pp. 137-140 and 152-153, then complete practice problems on superposition and polarization



  • model and observe double-slit interference patterns
  • laboratory investigation of diffraction grating interference pattern
  • Homework - read unit 9.3; review for test: test topics


  • SAT testing


  • NOTE: grade category weighting is changing for this 6-weeks to: 25% test, %50 quizzes/IA/full_labs, %25 class activities/homework
  • test over polarization, reflection, refraction, TIR, superposition, and single- and double-slit interference patterns
  • Homework - review IA feedback; memorize EM categories and wavelength ranges on pages 132-3 of your book; read and take notes on Unit 9.3 Interference, and copy down the Worked Examples

















  • review thin film interference
  • discuss anti reflective coatings || webpage || webpage
  • video on radio signal propagation
  • Homework - read Unit 9.4 Resolution and complete the packet of IB problems; I encourage you to look over the linked videos and webpages

​Note: There will be a mandatory PIT meeting on Wed 3/13, in the cafeteria, to discuss the Group 4 Project. The Project itself will be completed during the day on March 29th.  -- Bring back a signed permission slip!



  • [TOK student field trip]
  • Homework - you don't have to do anything over Spring Break, but your IA Exploration Final Draft is due March 28th







  • continue study of standing waves and solve related IB problems
  • The Physics of Musical Instruments (chapter from How Everything Works: Making Physics out of the Ordinary, by Louis Bloomfield)
  • Homework - complete the Standing Waves packet; the chapter on music above is an interesting read, if you have the time
  • turn in your IA Exploration Final Draft through by midnight; over April 9-17, you will have class time to carry out the IA and begin work on the Analysis; the Analysis is due in rough draft form on April 23

And here is an overview of some basic properties of sound: pitch, loudness, & timbre ... and a nice overview of timbre on YouTube














3/29 [Friday]

  • Group 4 Project - field trip to Emma Long Metropolitan Park



  • review material since last test


  • test over the categories of EM waves, thin film interference, resolution, standing waves and harmonics, and the Doppler effect


  • class time to work on your IA


  • class time to work on your IA


  • class time to work on your IA


  • class time to work on your IA

(Michio Kaku was wrong.)

Unit One-Page Overviews

4.3 Wave Characteristics

4.4 Wave Behavior

Sample Physics IA

(scored a 24/24)


this is from an IB student and YouTuber

Spring Break       Spring Break       Spring Break       Spring Break       Spring Break       Spring Break       Spring Break
The world's first image of a black hole was made public on April 10, 2019.

"In science-speak, the shadow cast by the M87 black hole is around 40 microarcseconds wide when viewed from the Earth. An arcsecond is 1/3600th of a degree. And there are 1 million microarcseconds in an arcsecond. Again: The shadow cast by the black hole is tiny. Compared to the full moon, the shadow cast by the M87 black hole is 46.5 million times smaller. Taking a picture of the shadow cast by a supermassive black hole is like taking a photo of a quarter in Los Angeles all the way from Washington, DC."

-quoted from a VOX article, by Brian Resnick



  • we begin our unit on Astrophysics; we explore the inhabitants of our universe and the properties of a "black body"
  • Astronomers rely heavily on the CCD. Why? And what is it?
  • homework - complete p.1-8 in the big Astrophysics packet


  • stellar parallax activity
  • homework - complete the big Astrophysics packet (excluding 2d)
  • your IA Analysis rough draft is due by Friday (4/26) midnight on












  • homework - ...then read this webpage


  • create a display that explains two techniques for measuring the distance to stars
  • What size telescope is needed to resolve a Black Hole? Work it out.
  • discuss Cepheid variables ("standard candles") || video || website


  • quiz over the astrophysics material we've covered

5/7 - no class



Learn more astrophysics on your own!

We will be meeting at UT on the evening of May 1st, at 8:30, for a star viewing party. Meet outside the RLM Bldg, but if you can't find us, just go inside and head up to the roof. See this website. (And bring a parent along!) NO GO - cancelled by UT

Proxima Centauri is 4 light years away. Ambitious space mission Breakthrough Starshot is developing a way to push spacecraft there at a fifth of the speed of light.

Read about it in this NewScientist article (13 April 2019)!

Proxima Centauri
Illustration by Sam Chivers
Stellar Evolution
Credit: SETI Institute
Click on me!


  • begin lecture on cosmology
  • solve IB problems on stellar evolution, the H-R diagram and the mass-luminosity relationship for main-sequence stars
  • homework - complete problems 1 and 2 in the Astro D2 packet


  • continue lecture on cosmology and finish Astro D2 packet
  • article: "Gravitational Waves Could Solve Hubble Constant Conundrum"
  • a NASA website on the Big Bang and related topics
  • homework - complete problems 3 and 4 in the Astro D2 packet


  • finish lecture on cosmology; discuss the size and shape of the universe
  • you won't understand it all, but this video will teach you a bit about dark energy
  • article on the shape of the universe


  • solve some cosmology problems


  • quiz over stellar evolution and cosmology


  • final exam (multiple choice; covers entire year)
  • your finalized IA is due through 
Credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team

The image reveals 13.77 billion year old temperature fluctuations (shown as color differences) that correspond to the seeds that grew to become the galaxies.

Credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team